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Symbolics prices (not only in Europe)

>Seriously, that is the reason we consultants who use Symbolics' machines to
>deliver complex production software in a short time can still "clean up"
>(and are).
> [...] (a lot of very good TECHNICAL reasons deleted)

  I know that lisp machines can be impressibely efficient and flexible, and
that people can do incredible things with them. However, the problem is not
a technical problem, it is a problem of PRICE. For example, very few people
are willing to pay $1000000 for a car, no matter how good it is. I guess that
there is a similar problem about workstations. In this case, the problem is
even worse, because most vendors are dropping their prices impressively,
while symbolic's ones remain fairly high. In the U.S. the problem is a little
bit smaller for Universities: the have a 40% discount, while, in Europe,
we only get 15%. However, I am don't consider that these discounts really
solve the problem.

  Most adminstrators in universities (I guess that it's the same in
compagnies) consider that the price of lisp machines is not an adequate price
for a workstation, even if they are incredibly efficient. Do not forget that
most of these people are political or managment people who frequently don't
even really understand the difference between a workstation and a high-end PC
(when they understand what a PC is).

  The result of all of this, is that the potential market of Symbolics buyers
is fairly small. My fear is that, with the decrease of the prices of the other
workstation (unix boxes) and their increase in performance, it will shrink 
even more, unless lisp machine manufacturers change their price policy
(and, maybe, their products).

  I am convinced that lisp machines are *REALLY* valuable tools. However
their prices are such that many people (especially administrators) refuse 
to buy them, even if they admit that they are really good tools, because
they consider that they are overpriced, as worksations.

  The situation is even worse in Europe, not only because of the much
smaller academic discounts, but also because the service is much poorer.
Just consider that the guy who installed our UXS1200 needed two days to
do this. I also remeber a "course" on Joshua, several years ago, which
was oversimplistic even for a secretary.

  I don't know how to communicate this to Symbolic's "official" people,
but IMHO, this is an important reality that they do not consider.

Emmanuel Baechler.
Laboratoire d'Intelligence Artificielle
Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne
CH-1015 Lausanne	Switzerland
Tel.: ++41-21-693-2732
e-mail: baechler@liasun6.epfl.ch
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