The Magazine Epidemic
It's mildly distressing to observe the rash of new computer magazines in preparation or now being launched. While some appear to be the result of dedicated, sincere efforts at serving a market niche, and serving it well, many seem to be efforts to simply get something on the shelf.
It would seem that every publisher, large and small, in the country has suddenly discovered the personal computer marketplace. We welcome those of you providing genuine readership; we'll reserve comment on those of you who are slapping a computer label on inferior editorial matter as a medium for selling advertising. We're firm believers in the inherent decision-making strength of the free marketplace. Time will tell.
The New Computers
Will the surge of intelligent keyboards for game machines have a massive impact on personal computer sales? We think not. With Atari, Commodore, and TI battling it out in the price trenches, we expect to see the less than $100 market begin to expand in the features area. Principal change: more memory at less cost. And we'll just keep growing from there.
IBM's home computer (code name Peanut) is now rumored to appear by August. We expect this baby PC to come in as a mid-market machine with superb design, lots of support, and a slightly high price point in the $600 range. From a marketing/ value added standpoint, the IBM name and reputation carries clout and has consumer impact. If and when it arrives, it will be an interesting competitor for the Commodore 64 and the soon-to-be-introduced Atari 600 and 800XL.
We hear that John Wiley, the book publishing house, is hard at work setting up a magazine staff to launch a personal computer magazine. Atari, Inc. has decided to accept advertising in their users magazine. As with Commodore publications, expect serious restraints on what type of advertising is allowed. Rumor has it that Atari won't be accepting game software advertising. We find that one hard to believe.
CBS is now looking for an entry into the computer magazine market. Rich Richmond, formerly Adventure International Marketing Manager, prepares to launch an Atari magazine (should we say "Another one..."?). All of this after unsuccessfully trying to raid COMPUTE!' s staff for several weeks.
Commodore, now in the publishing business, has become distant with COMPUTE! and COMPUTE!'s Gazette editors. We've always maintained that there's intrinsic value in independence.
Next month: The Consumer Electronics Show and a flock of exciting new products. We just returned from the National Computer Conference in Anaheim and, as far as the personal/home market goes, it simply makes us long for the arrival of CES. One point worth noting: several hundred exhibitors at this multimillion dollar show were housed in quasi-permanent, inflatable Quonset huts. Air conditioning failed and by late Monday, May 16, internal temperatures approached 115. So much for state-of-the-art technology at a state-of-the-art show.