“What I don’t understand is this, you said that the Amstrad dual phone and emailer would be a no brainier, yet it failed. Where’s the magic in Amstrad today? You used to lead British business with your forward thinking and smart ideas for repackaging products in a way that consumers would want them. But today, is this the best you can do? You’re fired.”

Now, there’s a speech that contestants in BBC2’s programme the Apprentice might dream of making. Yesterday, Amstrad revealed it latest results. Profits in the six months to the end of last year were down 12% to just £12.5mn. Its Sky Plus Set Top Box is the key product at Amstrad these days, but the real money is with the advanced version. And in the last six months, this was not so popular, and as a result the bottom line was hit.

Recently the company admitted that its dual phone emailer, launched in 2000, had not been the success expected. The company just could not sell it in sufficient quantities, even after slashing the cost.

Amstrad made its name by packaging products in a new, user-friendly way. The Amstrad Hi Fi systems were the first high profile products to contain two tape decks, a move that was not popular with the music industry, but it raked in the bucks. Then there was the Amstrad PCW. The first mass market computer, monitor and printer all in one. Now that really was Sugar at his best. He took technology that was commonly available, but threw it all together, made it easy to operate, and the UK experienced the benefits of word processing on a mass scale for the first time.

Then Amstrad turned the PC market up side down with the launch of cheap PCs, at a time when £3,000 plus was the going rate for what was then called an IBM compatible Personal Computer.

But since then, the veneer of brilliance has lost its varnish. The talk now is for the company to enter VoIP. Unquestionably this is a product which confuses the consumer. And maybe an Amstrad VoIP product could sweeten up the Amstrad P&L. But then again, the same could have been said of the email phone.

© Investment & Business News 2013