Monday, April 28, 2008

BPN 1082 Commodore sinks further in the marshes

To some people it might be a surprise to hear that the veteran home PC brand Commodore is still around. One or two generations have grown up with the Commodore home PCs. It was a great experience. But after a few bankruptcies the brand Commodore goes downhill.

We moved as a family from the Netherlands to the UK in 1983 and lived in London. In 1984 I bought a Commodore 64 for the family. It was intended as an entertainment machine in the widest sense. Of course educational software packages were also used. We were used to PCs for professional usage since 1980, which were self-contained and floppy disc readers built-in. The Commodore 64 was a home computer with the computing part under the keyboard; it used the TV screen as a monitor. Software could be loaded from a floppy-disc drive or from a cassette player. We bought a lot of games and educational material for the Commodore 64 and still have the machine and the software in our little museum.

Eventually Commodore went bust. It had rested on its laurels, made the wrong choices and had not innovated in time. By 1994, the company went bankrupt, after that it had made a last attempt to introduce its version of the multimedia CD-ROM under the name CDTV, a competitor of Philips CD-i. CDTV and CD-I were both ignored by the market in favour of the multimedia PC CD-ROM. CDTV was ditched and the remains of Commodore, mainly the trademarks were acquired by the German computer shop chain Escom for 14 million US dollars in 1995; Escom went bust in 1996. In 1997 the Dutch company Tulip became the owner of the brand, but was too busy to do something with the brand. In 2004 it sold the trademark rights of Commodore International BV to music shop Yeahronimo for 24 million euro.

From 2005 to 2007 Commodore International BV applied itself to the development of media equipment for plying out music and movies. In 2007 Commodore was ready to launch its top product, the Gravel. But the equipment did neither sell well as it soon became known that there were problems with the equipment; the batteries emptied too fast and the music and movies were nor receivable by the equipment. The Commodore experience was not felt at all. Presently Commodore offers Golden Testsamples, but they still have to be tested by the buyers.

But the Golden Testsamples will hardly yield profits. Having spent 30 million euro for product development, the product might be finally ready and hopefully play without a hitch, in the meantime the price for media players has gone done so drastically that it will be difficult to make any profit at all.

Besides technical trouble the financial situation of the holding company does not look bright either. It has debts of over 36 million euro. The main claim comes from the Dutch computer manufacturer Tulip, which still wants to see 20 million euro.

On top of all this trouble one of the subsidiaries of Commodore International was declared bankrupt two weeks ago, but this ruling is being protested. Yet, the prospects for Commodore do not look healthy and whether the Commodore experience will be around again, will be most doubtful.

Blog Posting Number: 1082

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