by Martin Veitch

Look, no sticker: AMD’s Leslie Sobon on PC branding and Intel Inside

Mar 15, 2010
IT Leadership

In Part One of CIO UK’s interview with AMD VP of product and platform marketing, Leslie Sobon talked about her ambition to proliferate the four-socket server. In Part Two, she discusses PC branding, tablets, netbooks and custom chips.

Sobon caused a stir last year when she introduced AMD’s Vision branding, designed to make PC selection simpler for consumers. She says that the move has been a success, with secret shopping exercises across the UK, US, Germany and China suggesting about 93 per cent of appropriate systems now carry the branding.

“Buying a PC is not a lot of fun. It’s all fact tabs and yet PCs are becoming like cameras or TVs in their usage patterns. In America, more people know what 1080p than know than what is a microprocessor is.”

She says that the business needs to be better at answering straightforward questions such as how long people can expect their laptop batteries to run: “I’m a huge proponent that the PC industry can do at least as well as the cellphone industry by providing a worst case versus best case.”

Although it is often held up as a great example of branding, Sobon is scathing about Intel and its Intel Inside campaign.

“Intel has not branded as an ingredient brand. That’s not what ingredient branding is: that’s Dolby, that’s Gore-Tex. We were following an Intel setup of the 1990s and it wasn’t doing us any good. It might be working for them [in terms of brand recognition] but it’s not working for the OEM and it’s definitely not working for the users.”

While many PCs today are festooned with brands such as those of Microsoft and Intel seemingly arc-welded to devices, Sobon believes that component providers might need to give more credit back to system brands. To that end, AMD will provide the option of peel-off stickers or no sticker at all on PCs.

She is also insistent that AMD will not tout for business by providing exclusive processors for cloud computing providers or others, saying that, “We’ll design for certain power envelopes [that are requested but resulting products are] not exclusive or unique — we’re not into exclusivity.”

And finally, AMD expects to have its Accelerated Processing Units combining on one piece of silicon CPUs with GPUs next year to meet the needs of tablet and netbook makers.

Plenty of changes coming from AMD then but, as Sobon notes, “there’s lots of things you can do when you’re a distant second”.