AMD's Challenge: Fixing an Image ProblemBy Pedro Pereira | Print
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Opinion: If AMD has any hope of success with its new channel efforts, it must not only support partners but also market aggressively to end users.
AMD has an image problem and the company knows it.
It is a distant second to processor market-share leader Intel Corp., and as such, it is often perceived as the one with the less-desirable product.
Pretty much all end users historically have gotten from AMD by way of marketing is the sense from print and online ads that machines with the vendor's chips are cheaper.
And since "cheap" in this context has a dual meaning, the AMD brand has gotten stuck with both.
Perception of course is frequently out of sync with reality, but perception unchanged is perception become reality.
Now the vendor has a real opportunity to change that image through its efforts to build a channel infrastructure that acknowledges the existence of VARs, integrators, solution providers and ISVs in addition to the system builders that for years have been inserting AMD chips into low-cost machines.
The question is whether AMD is up to the task. For channel partners to lead with the AMD brand, the vendor had best be prepared to put some serious investment behind supporting the partners and marketing to end users.
In announcing the Commercial Channel Access Program, the company said a lot of the right things.
AMD is making available to partners a host of web-based resources, including white papers, product information and channel-specific customer support, all of which has unquestionable value.
But more importantly, the chip maker is giving partners access to its business development team and field account managers. It also plans to provide specialized support to partners and promote solutions aimed at tackling end users' specific business challenges.
AMD also formed a Commercial Channel Council through which channel partner members can offer feedback, gain access to company executives and learn about strategy.
Formation of the council is especially encouraging, for it shows the vendor is willing to listen. And that indicates an openness to trying new ideas and making adjustments where needed when partners suggest them.
If AMD has any hope of combating Intel effectively, the vendor not only has to listen to partners, but also has to execute on all the measures it is putting in place.
Intel has a long history with the channel, and shifting attention of VARs and integrators away from the market leader will take a lot of work.
Some of that work will have to be in the area of marketing to end users. While supporting the channel in its technical, marketing and sales needs is fundamental, getting the message out to the end users is imperative.
AMD remains primarily an industry name, while everybody with a television knows about Intel as a result of the wildly effective "Intel Inside" campaign.
Consider how much average users know about what is inside their telephones or televisions compared to their awareness of which company made the chips in their computers.
Whether the average users will ever know if the CPU in his or her computer is branded AMD will prove key to how successful the vendor's newly launched efforts turn out.
AMD has reason to feel optimistic, considering the success of its Opteron products in the enterprise market. In addition, the company's new mobile and desktop products have come a long way.
But good technology isn't enough. It should just be a given. Success ultimately rides on how well AMD supports its partners and promotes itself to the market.
Pedro Pereira is a contributing editor for The Channel Insider. He covered the channel from 1994 to 2001, took a break, and now he's back. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.