Interview: The future of computers
AMD computer chips power some of the world’s top computers, including consoles like the Nintendo Wii and Xbox. Nigel Dessau, senior vice-president, spoke to Communicate about what’s next.
September 2, 2010 3:54 by Austyn Allison
AMD is a company that makes computer chips. Which means that most of us don’t understand it or care much about it.
Even Nigel Dessau, the company’s chief marketing officer and senior vice-president, admits that the components inside a computer are seldom its top selling point. For this reason, AMD’s marketing department bunches consumers into two categories.
“The first audience we call the ‘processor aware,’” says Dessau. “These are people who make decisions about the PC based on the processor – everyone from the enthusiasts locked in their basement playing games to our partners, to retailers, to companies like HP and Acer and Lenovo.”
The other group, predictably, is the “processor unaware.” These, says Dessau, are “the people who buy PCs, and aren’t really aware of the processor inside them.”
The first group numbers around 25 million globally, and is traditionally who computer companies have been selling to; the second group, though, makes up around 6 billion people.
Tech firms, therefore, might have been getting their pitch wrong. “We’re an industry that for years has been trying to tell everybody about the processor,” says Dessau. “After billions of dollars spent by marketing, here’s the thing: Most consumers don’t care.”
On the back of this realization, AMD changed its marketing towards the end of 2009, and now tries to sell experience over processors. “For years you’ve seen sticky labels on PCs,” says Dessau. “They don’t mean anything to anybody. So we replaced them about nine months ago with a single brand we call ‘Vision.’”
When we caught up with Dessau, a Brit who now lives in Austin, Texas, he had come to the region for the first time in his two-year tenure at AMD (he was previously with Sun Microsystems, and worked with IBM for 19 years) to visit his company’s partners in the region and to check out the local retail scene.