AMD doesn't have the equivalent of Intel Capital to dig up $300 million for its pet projects, but that doesn't mean it's holding back on strategic investments.
Since occasional HEXUS blogger Leslie Sobon first launched the Vision concept AMD has made it clear that the consumer notebook market is its number one focus. This was in anticipation of the launch of the Fusion family of processors, which combine the CPU and GPU onto a single piece of silicon, and thus offer power and money savings.
As a result you can now get notebooks that offer decent performance and graphics at competitive price points and with longer-than-ever battery life. The consumer notebooks segment is also the biggest, by volume, in the PC market, so it makes sense for AMD to point its resources in that direction.
A key manifestation of this strategy is investment in the retail channel, and to find out a bit more about that we spoke to AMD's newly-promoted Northern European retail sales manager Toby Williams, pictured below. "The retail sales team has more than doubled in the past year," said Williams, pointing out that in the UK alone headcount in the retail team has increased from three to eight.
"I work with our OEM and retail partners to ensure good AMD in-store presence," said Williams. AMD realised a while ago that there's no point in just investing in the AMD brand, per se, unless people can get hold of products containing its chips. So any money it may have previously spent on above-the-line marketing such as, say, sponsoring the Ferrari formula one team, is now being focused more on the channel.
One part of the puzzle is convincing OEMs they need to be making AMD systems. There are already good relationships with the likes of HP and Acer, but the more the merrier. However those PCs still need to find their way onto the retail shelves and from there into shoppers' baskets. A big part of what Williams and his team do is to assist that process.
"AMD has got the recipe right and retailers are comfortable communication the Fusion message," said Williams. One of the most important things they do is educate the sales staff, which as anyone who has gone into some of the larger tech stores will appreciate can only be a good thing.
Things seem to be building nicely for AMD in the consumer notebook market. The Brazos (C and E series - codenamed Ontario and Zacate) 11.6-inch notebooks have gone down well and now the full-blooded A-series (codenamed Llano) chips are set to appear in notebooks in our shops. How well they sell will be down, in no small part, to Williams and his team. No pressure then.