Classic Computer Magazine Archive ST-Log ISSUE 24 / OCTOBER 1988 / PAGE 8


The world vs. Atari

I tried not to write. I find it's not very often that I read an editorial in a magazine and utter things aloud. However, after reading the editorial in the June issue of ST- Log and uttering some pretty nasty things aloud, I had to write.

I have been an Atarian since the days when the Atari 800 only came with 16K of memory and programs were only 4K long. I have watched Atari struggle to try and come into its own, and I might add that I became very discouraged towards the end of '85. With the introduction of the ST in '85,1 again gave Atari a chance. In the summer of '87, with the introduction of the Mega 4, I again gave Atari another chance. I am no stranger to the history of Atari.

Atari has some serious flaws which it had better correct if it is ever going to make a dent in the American market. Atarians who don't help in the struggle are partly at fault. Don't sit back and say, "It's a small company; give it time." Atari needs to improve the following:

One, Atari must take on a more serious and mature role when dealing with the press. Let me give you an example. At COMDEX in the past, Atari announced that they were going to come out with a $3,000 desktop-publishing system. When the system finally hit the market almost a year later than the date set by Atari, the Mega 4 ST was $2,500 and the laser printer was $1,900—a printer that can only be used with the Atari. At present I am running a HP Deskjet at 300 dpi with a price of $689. There are no bugs in the software, and I can sell it to any other computer user if I have to.

Atari has repeated this again with the CD-ROM. It was announced to be out in February '88—to date, still not seen. Critics of Atari in the non-Atari computer media have become deaf to Atari's announcements because none of the announcements are true.

Two, what is Atari doing about visibility via the TV and movie media?

Three, Atari should make as much information available to the user as possible. Have any of you logged onto the Atari BBS in the past? The same news stays on the board until it becomes history.

Four, customer support must improve, as well as the image of the stores selling Atari computers. Besides Federated, most of the stores selling Atari computers are small storefront mom-and-pop operations with limited high-profile business image.

The thing I hate most about Ataris is that I can't recommend them to a friend who needs an office computer. Support is not that good. In the Los Angeles area, fewer and fewer stores are carrying related products. B. Dalton's has just about stopped carrying Atari books and software.

What we Atarians need to do is write to Atari, again and again. Maybe Jack will get the message: Happy users sell more computers.

—Gilbert Bush
Alta Loma, CA

I think you missed the point of the editorial. Nowhere in it did I state that Atari was perfect, that they haven't made mistakes in the past and are not likely to make them in the future. We are all aware of Atari's errors (at least, what we call errors; Atari may have a very different viewpoint of its actions), but that still doesn't change the fact that there is a great difference between constructive criticism and destructive criticism.

By all means, write to Atari! Tell them how and why you're dissatisfied and what they can do to make you happier. The point is that, if you're not very careful, you can go full circle with unreasonable griping. Many of the biggest complainers say that yelling and screaming is the only way they have left to make Atari notice them. What they may not be aware of is that that same yelling and screaming is likely to chase away just as many customers as Atari's policies do If you read the rest of the June issue, then you also saw Mike Donahue's article, "The Absent Revolution." We at ST-Log consider that article to be constructive criticism because it makes its point without resorting to nasty accusations, name-calling and rumor-spreading.

And I think that many of the "mom-and-pop" stores you referred to would take exception to your implication that they are somehow inferior. A good many of these private computer dealers are staffed by skilled professionals who know as much (if not more) about the equipment they sell as do the larger dealers. I think it's a sad state of affairs—and a symptom of the disease I was discussing in the editorial—when people think that the only good place to buy a computer is some large chain store. It would be nice to have Atari computers available in the chains in addition to the private dealers, but there's no need to look down on the smaller stores.

The self-fulfilling prophecy is a very real phenomenon. People are being turned away from Atari just as quickly by what they hear from other Atari owners as from what they hear from an Apple or Amiga dealer. If that's the way you think things should be, there's nothing I can say. If, however, you want to be part of the cure rather than part of the problem, I would ask that you to at least carefully consider what you say. Make sure that you're not just spreading unfounded rumors, and make sure that you're being realistic.

No matter how you feel about Atari and its policies, chasing people away is not the answer to the problem.