HISTORY of the Alesis Fusion

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HISTORY of the Alesis Fusion

Unread post by parametric » Sun Apr 15, 2018 11:58 pm

Alesis Fusion
I found this while researching for one of our members, and IMO, it is simply the BEST account I have ever read.

The late Steve Howell had greater insight than most to it's trials and tribulations, having been co-opted to refresh its onboard Programs - soon after it's initial release . . .
4 Jun 2009 at 20:25 roboman01 said:
Steve can you tell me exactly what happened or why Alesis quit supporting the fusion? Was it because the marketing department didn't do their jobs and that is why it didn't sell. Has anyone asked about them open sourcing this OS so maybe others can fix things? PM me if you don't mind.
Well, Alesis released it with a huge herald of trumpets and ticker tape even dedicating a website to it where its impressive features were proudly listed. However, they released it too early with some reliability problems - O/S crashing, incomplete sounds, not good.

Early adopters (rightly so) got in a right lather on forums all over the internet which, of course, damaged initial sales but Alesis made efforts to fix things. But still they got in a lather. Rather bizarrely, someone who didn't even own a Fusion set up a forum dedicated to Fusion and it quickly became a trash there and every day saw an outpouring of vitriol against Fusion and Alesis.

V1.20 (I think) eventually sorted things out pretty much AND added new features. It still had a few problems but it was a massive improvement on previous ones. But STILL users got in a tizzy about it and were mouthing off on the forums.

Then they got me involved to improve the sound set and that calmed the waters a little and I think people generally appreciated the new sounds they were getting. But some people STILL kept on moaning, complaining about bugs (there were still some), missing features (there were some unfulfilled promises still ... such as the SATA connection). This continued to have a damaging effect on sales - people who found out about Fusion would do a Google for info and generally find nothing but negative comments but a quick note on this ... the majority of negative comments at this time were from a handful of people who seemed intent on a hate campaign against Fusion and Alesis - at the Fusion forum, it was the same old people moaning and groaning and these same people were all over the other forums as well. What also happened is that people who had never seen or used Fusion joined in the bunfight, quoting stuff from the Fusion forum. With all this negativity floating around the net, sales were not good. The dealers weren't behind it either and kind of forced a price drop on Alesis.

And the forums went nuts again fuelled by the early adopters who'd paid full whack who were threatening legal action, etc.. That all passed but then Fusions started shipping with an 80GB drive instead of a 40GB drive and again, the early adopters (and recent adopters) went off on one totally ignoring the fact that the reason for this was that Alesis could no longer get the 40GB drive and the 80GB drive was the same price as the original 40GB drive one. Contrary to the detractors' claims, it wasn't Alesis crapping on them

Alesis continued with OS releases with each one improving things. OF COURSE, there were still issues and OF COURSE the SATA drive wasn't supported but the instrument was generally improving and it was pretty stable by now.

But STILL some people were carping on about it, people complaining about the UI, complaining about some odd implementations of some functions and STILL banging on about the situation 6, 7, 8 months earlier. Alesis personnel were on this Fusion forum trying to calm things but all they got was a barrage of abuse so they kept out of it. And they got a barrage of abuse for staying clear - damned if they did, damned if they didn't. I was up there too along with Roberto here and we got a barrage of abuse day after day after day, usually by the same small group of trolls people. We gave up there as well - pointless.

During all this, Alesis, tried various promotional campaigns - like a free set of Alesis monitors if bought within a certain timescale. Again, uproar on the forums. Then one of the big US music chains decided to do a stock blow-out and dropped the price of the 6HD to something like $500. More uproar (even though this was NOTHING to do with Alesis - it was the music chain's decision to clear their stockroom, something dealers do routinely at the end of a tax year).

So basically, it didn't matter what Alesis did throughout this debacle, they were damned, often by the very people who they were trying to help.

Alesis eventually got V1.24 out which pretty much fixed most things. There were/are still some weird implementations of functions and some aspects of the UI are fiddly - I accept that - and there are still a few minor bugs but with V1.24, it was pretty solid.

But still this handful of people kept banging on against Alesis and Fusion with rumour and speculation (and often damned lies). And STILL they were banging on about the lack of SATA support. Fusion's detractors were always claiming that Alesis would dump Fusion and guess what? They did.

It didn't matter what Alesis did, nothing would stop these people from bloody complaining and bitching and all this was being seen by potential customers. Christ - rival manufacturers were printing all this crap out and passing it round their dealers!! Fusion didn't stand a chance.

By this time, it was not economical to continue working on Fusion. Alesis were losing money on it now and they were not obliged to develop it further so the plug was pulled and the thrust was then to clear stocks.

So Alesis dropped the price again. More uproar but people were actually buying them - too much of a bargain to overlook and guess what? They liked it! The forums started getting some positive user comments (along the lines of "Wow - I am really impressed after all the crap I've read"). More and more people bought one and sales picked up. But it was too late. At the new price, Alesis weren't making any money on them - they were just recouping costs... just about.

They have now sold all units and I think they may have recouped costs but I reckon that with all the peripharal stuff (promotion, advertising, in-store clinics and training, free monitors, etc.), they probably lost a good chunk of money on this.

Of course, Alesis were partly to blame for the fiasco. It could be said that they over-egged the initial release with their ambitious claims for its functionality which they failed to deliver initially (and arguably still haven't) but users have to take their fair share of responsibility too. For example, there were LOTS of reports about reliability problems but here's a weird thing ....

People would buy a Fusion and instead of unpacking her and playing with her for a bit and getting a feel for her and finding out what she could do, somewhat bizarrely, almost the first thing some people would do is hook it up to their PC and fill the drive full of soundfonts and crap from dodgy websites and torrents and re-arrange the factory sounds ... and then wonder why the thing was giving load errors and/or crashing ... and would then get all over the forums claiming Fusion to be a heap of unreliable trash, sometimes (often) warning people not to buy one! This would then be copied and pasted over other forums .... and so on. And other people complained it was a nightmare to use but these were people who wouldn't know an LFO from a UFO. All this just conspired against Fusion.

Basically, it was an (over-)ambitious project to make an (over-)ambitious product and it went horribly wrong for a variety of reasons. In such extenuating circumstances, plans for its development changed and Alesis had to (reluctantly I can tell you) exercise their legal right that "Specifications are subject to change"!

And no - Alesis will never, ever open source the OS. There's proprietary stuff in there - why should they give that away?

One other little "nugget" (Easter Egg). . . .

If you go into Global/System and press the right hand side BOTTOM (unlabelled) soft button - you'll see a scroll-able list of the Fusion Development Team (who did what etc) . . . You'll see Taiho and KPR's names there . . .


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Re: HISTORY of the Alesis Fusion

Unread post by Saul » Mon Apr 16, 2018 1:07 am

Fascinating read there Chris. Thanks for sharing.

What Alesis SHOULD have done was approached us because on this forum it most certainly would not have been trashed. Sure there were issues, we all accept that but you could argue there are issues with many other keyboards released in the past and some in the present.

These are complex instruments and it takes time "in the real world" not a lab, to iron out the bugs. Overall Alesis did a fantastic job with the Fusion.

I completely ignored all the bad press when I bought my first one and it proved to be a superb keyboard in all the respects that mattered to me.

No doubt I will have another when funds permit. It was definitely one of my favourite keyboards of the last 30 years :)
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Re: HISTORY of the Alesis Fusion

Unread post by keyspleeese » Thu May 03, 2018 2:41 am

Interesting. Good read.
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