Gateway sells Amiga to ex-Amiga employee

Former marketing boss Bill McEwen snaps up brand, hardware, OS

Gateway has finally rid itself of the legacy of its acquisition of Amiga with a close-of-year sale of the Amiga hardware spec., system software and brandname to Amino on undisclosed terms. And who do we find runs Amino? Step forward, Bill McEwen, the former Amiga, Inc. marketing chief who quit the company earlier this year just before ex-president Jim Collas was given the boot. McEwen is well respected by the Amiga community, so his acquisition of the Amiga is likely to be received postively -- doubly so since Gateway has long been viewed as the Amiga world's chief bete noire, responsible not only for giving Collas the push but for masterminding the software-only strategy pursued by his successor, Tom Schmidt, a move that for many Amiga users was a tacit admission that Gateway was never really interested in reviving the Amiga brand. In fact, it may well have been interested in doing just that but to use it as the basis for its own Internet appliance line. The snag here is the brand's poor level of recognition outside the community, and the company may have felt that a new brand, one not sullied by years in the IT wilderness, is probably more appropriate. The work on the next-generation software technologies begun under Collas and continued under Schmidt will be folded into Gateway's own Net device product development operation, the company said. Not surprisingly, the deal doesn't include Amiga-related patents awarded since 1997 -- Gateway is hanging on to those. Given Gateway's lack of interest in the 'classic' Amiga, the sale should at least see its continued existence as a computer platform. As yet, Amino hasn't said what its plans for the classic Amiga, but a move into the open source world seems a likely move. The Campaign to Open Source the Amiga (COSA), has been negotiating to open up the classic Amiga OS for some time, so far without success (though Schmidt did seem broadly receptive to the idea). COSA's argument is that the Amiga platform only has a future if it expands its user base, and the best way of doing that is to open it up in the hope of winning the same kind of broad support that Linux has achieved. Certainly, the influx of new talent that such a move would encourage if the Amiga platform isn't to dwindle further and become nothing more than a refuge for die-hards and 80s retro fans. ®

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