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Mariusz Wloczysiak (email)

Elbox explains their price policy for driver software
As already reported, Elbox has announced on the 16.08.2001 a CD with driver software you have to pay for. This has led to big and extensive discussions. In the following email Elbox explains their price policy:

ELBOX Computer explains its policy about driver pricing

1. The purpose of MEDIATOR

To ENABLE the POSSIBILITY of using a wide range of standard PCI cards.

'The MEDIATOR PCI busboard line is designed to enable expanding the Amiga with a wide range of standard PCI cards like Graphic cards, Ethernet and Fast Ethernet network cards, Modem cards, ISDN cards, USB and SCSI cards, Sound cards and Multimedia cards: TV tuner and MPEG-2 hardware decoders.

Expanding the Amiga with the MEDIATOR PCI busboard opens the way to employing the power of the latest PowerPC G3/G4 processors in Amiga, around which SharkPPC and SharkPPC+ cards are based.'

However, it does not mean that we will prepare ALL the possible drivers for ALL the possible devices and their different versions.

We want to enhance Amiga's effectiveness and give Amiga community access to low-cost, good and widely-available PCI cards.

As a starter, we have included some drivers in the initial pack of the Mediator busboard:

PCI Graphic cards: Voodoo5 5500 64MB, Voodoo4 4500 32MB, Voodoo3 3000 16MB, Voodoo3 2000 16MB, Voodoo Banshee 16 MB, S3 ViRGE 86C325 2MB, S3 ViRGE 86C325 4MB, S3 ViRGE/DX 86C375 2MB, S3 ViRGE/DX 86C375 4MB

PCI Ethernet cards: Winbond 89C940F, RealTek RTL-8029, NetVin NV5000S.C., Holtek HT80232, Holtek HT80229, Compex RL2000, SureCom NE34, KTI ET32P2, Via 86C926.

These drivers have never been free. Their price was included in the original design costs.

New drivers have to be calculated separately because...

2. No commercial software is free

Writing good and versatile software (e.g. Mediator drivers) requires time and effort, which ultimately means programmers have to receive good salaries. If users want to be supported in the long run by any company, they have to pay for its products. Money collected allows generating new ideas, new designs and new products.

3. Free alternative approach (which we do NOT follow)

Yes, we could offer software for free. We could have bought hundreds of old-fashioned PCI sound cards just a few Mark per piece (like e.g. SB Pro). Then we could write drivers to this specific batch of cards. Easy way, supporting one chipset, one specific card, branded with our name and marketed as unique. As these cards would be unique, they would have to priced high enough, say at DM 100. With "free" drivers, of course.

What's the result? You would buy an OUTDATED low-featured no-longer-supported card, paying mega-bucks not for the card but for quick software and huge extra profits for the "manufacturer."

4. Instead we give...

RESPECT. The basic rule with Elbox is that we FIRST develop, design and test and only when everything is ready and in the final stage do we announce new products. In other words, we take the risk and full cost of the designing stage. We do not demand from users making pre-payments, placing pre-orders, etc. In other words, we respect the users as full-scale Customers, who deserve to be offered a final-stage product to choose whether to take it or not, depending on their needs.

Another basic rule for us is that we prepare universal drivers, i.e. drivers supporting various chipsets. This ensures faulty-free support for many different versions of the same card. Writing software with this prerequisite in mind takes much more time and tests than writing drivers for one specific chipset/card. But what we offer is UNIVERSALITY and PERFORMANCE.

Mariusz Wloczysiak
ELBOX COMPUTER, Press Department
(ps) (Translation: wk)

[News message: 18. Aug. 2001, 19:08] [Comments: 1 - 21. Aug. 2001, 00:05]
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