It’s been only a little over 10 hours, way too soon to pass judgment on AMD’s choice of the new CEO. True. But one thing keeps bugging me.
During a conference call with AMD, both Rory Read, AMD’s new CEO, and AMD management harped on a single point: “He [Read] brings a customer point of view." Before this announcement, analyst types had also talked about AMD’s getting someone from outside the chip industry, possibly in the PC industry.
My first reaction was “Why not a chip guy? What’s wrong with that?”
No offense to Read. But what does a PC company – whether Lenovo, Dell or HP – do these days? How much innovation comes out of your typical contemporary PC company? Do they even design anything these days? Isn’t a successful PC vendor defined nowadays by how thoroughly they beat up chip companies on price? When’s the last time when you saw a knock-your-socks-off PC from Lenovo?
More importantly, what new ideas has Lenovo -- or any PC vendor -- brought to the development of new tablets or mobile phones – other than, once again, triggering a bloodbath for chip suppliers?
OK. I may be biased. But every time I interview an architect who designed the latest SoC or a processor, I am always amazed how much “chip guys” actually know about the system market. They not only actually develop almost a turn-key, full-reference design for a given system, but also push their chip’s limits in size, power and cost, while constantly thinking about its usability in a system.
In a recent conversation on a tablet market with Rajeev Kumar, marketing manager for Freescale’s i.MX product line, Kumar said that at Intel where he used to work, “we used to talk about getting computing to the next billion users.” Kumar said, “Now, we must think about getting computing to the next 10 billion users.”
That comment stuck in my mind.
So, tell me how the “customer point of view” of a PC vendor with a solid record of same-old same-old is going to get AMD to win over the hearts and minds of the next 10 billion customers. Surely, we aren’t just talking about selling more PCs to more Chinese.
I wish Read the best of luck. But let’s not overplay the “customer’s point of view” card.
AMD needs a solid engineering guy who’s done his homework as a thoughtful leader – always thinking about the next big thing in the system’s market beyond PCs -- maybe someone who cut his teeth in the chip business, like Abhi Talwalkar, LSI’s CEO (who was apparently in the running at AMD).