More About the SMG Story

Did they quit or were they fired?

04-May-96 - The Service Management Group (SMG) did not entirely voluntarily leave the Amiga market as might be inferred from a recent, rambling press release distributed widely on the Internet by SMG. According to brief comments made by Amiga Technologies' Company Spokesman, Gilles Bourdin to CUCUG, "The contract with SMG was indeed resigned to the 31st of March 1996." CUCUG has received a copy of the actual letter to SMG dated March 25, 1996 and signed by AT president Petro Tyschtschenko terminating the SMG contract.

However, SMG's president, Paul Bielski said in an interview with CUCUG today that the decision was not entirely one-sided on AT's part, either. Bielski told us, "During many phone calls in the final weeks, Gilles, Petro Tyschtschenko, and others asked us to stay. There were 'many ways' acceptable to AT Germany, we could continue to participate in the Amiga marketplace. We chose not to continue."

"The termination of the SMG contract was simply not a factor in our decision. The role the SMG would play in the North American market was agreed to by the SMG, Amiga Technologies and QuikPak more than a month earlier. The SMG continued to purchase systems from QuikPak and directly from Amiga Technologies, Germany, well into mid-April," Bielski noted.

In the meantime, AT has named QuikPak of Norristown, Pennsylvania as the exclusive sales source of Amiga product in North America. QuikPak is also the manufacturer/assembler of the Amiga A4000T line of computers. Another company, Zober Industries, a contract manufacturer in Croydon, Pennsylvania, makes many of the PC boards and other components of the A4000T.

CUCUG has also received a copy of a FAX dated April 3, 1996 addressed to SMG from Quikpak declining SMG's request to purchase Amiga product at distributor pricing. This would severely hinder SMG's ability to continue to distribute Amiga products to dealers since they would be forced to buy merchandise at the same prices their customers already pay. Bielski said, "The QuikPak letter...was authored AFTER the SMG notified the 400+ NA dealers that we would sell single units for dealers for $2400. Our dealer letter was release at the close of business on April 2, 1996. This was a unilateral action on our part to reduce the price dealers pay for the Amiga 4000T. It was our sincere hope this action would result in more Amiga sales as well as reduced dealer and consumer prices."

A few Amiga pundits have questioned the authenticity of the now-infamous SMG press release, however after much hoopla surrounding its publication on the Internet, SMG did not deny its authorship.

Another charge against SMG making the rounds on the Internet, was that SMG refused to import the popular, low-priced Amiga A1200 computer into North America. Bielski's response to that was, "This is simply not true. We polled every dealer asking if they wanted them. Amiga Tech told us their minimum order quantity was 5,000 units. Despite repeated dealer queries, we never could amass a a six month forecast larger that 500-700 units. Despite all of this, the SMG formally presented Amiga Technologies with a purchase order for 5,000 A1200 units in January '96 and again in March'96. For reasons Petro Tyschtschenko may want to provide, Amiga Technologies could not deliver the systems. When those efforts failed, we asked AT to sell us the pieces of the A1200. The SMG would do the PAL to NTSC conversion and repackage the systems with more memory, bigger disk and faster modem, all at our own expense. Again, AT would not sell us the units. Finally, we asked AT to simply license the technology to us. The SMG would build the units itself, paying AT a license fee, and assuming all of the risk on our own. Still, no sale."

"The SMG made every effort, and fully accepted the financial risk, of bring the A1200 to North America. The reason the A1200 is not in North America does not rest with the SMG," Bielski said.

-Kevin Hisel
Champaign-Urbana Computer Users Group

Copyright, 1996, CUCUG

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