Every few days it seems like some rumor or another pops up saying that AMD is going to start making chips for netbooks. Right now Intel dominates the market with the Intel Atom CPU and older Celeron Mobile processors, while VIA nips at the company’s heels with the C7-M and the upcoming Nano. Every now and then you can find an ultraportable laptop with a low power AMD Geode CPU, but it’s been a while since Intel AMD updated this line.

So what’s holding AMD back? Is it the fact that netbooks are a new class of device and it hasn’t yet been proven that they’ll continue selling in the long haul? Well, yeah. But it also appears that AMD (or at least AMD’s marketing department) just doesn’t get why anyone would want a low cost ultraportable laptop with a “smaller size screen and without a hard drive” for the same price as a larger laptop with a dual core CPU and Vista. I don’t know who decided that the lack of a hard drive was a bad thing. Sure, some solid state disks have turned out to be slower than hard drives, but others are much faster. And they’re more durable and drop-resistant.

AMD Advanced Marketing head Pat Moorhead says he went out and bought 4 netbooks to better understand the emerging market. And he thinks they’re fine for use around the house. But because of their small screens and low battery life, he doesn’t see why anyone would take them on the road. Of course, he also claims that “one” of the four gets 1 hour and 45 minutes of battery life. So I’m guessing he’s not talking about the MSI Wind or Asus Eee PC 1000H, both of which are capable of lasting 5+ hours on a single charge.

He says users need to understand the tradeoffs you make when buying a netbook. But I’d say AMD needs to understand that there’s a market for laptops that cost less than $500 and weigh less than 3 pounds too. Sure you can get a more powerful computer for the same price. But you’d pay 3 or 4 times as much money to get it in the same portable package. And if AMD is really concerned that netbooks don’t offer the same performance as higher end computers, how about coming out with a low power, high performance chip to show Intel how it’s done?

You can find a video of Moorhead’s comments after the break.

via Eee PC News.de


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12 replies on “AMD doesn’t seem to get netbooks – Video”

  1. He says in the video “Does the user really understand…” I think the sales of the Asus Eee PC and the fact that so many people, even Dell, are making netbooks mean that users do understand… However his point that so many netbooks are now looking like laptops is true, why would I spend $500 on a netbook when I can buy a laptop!

    1. For once the manufacturers are hearing what the people want even though there was a lot of negative press for it (you know, the same press who begrudgingly have to admit that the Wii is a roaring success and then throw in a dozen jabs why its not good. Funny, the people seem not to mind). Up until the big summer push this year at the Taiwan show, the only mentions the gadget sites would make would be comparing the netbooks to the Foleo.

      Gary:
      I spent 329$ for my Acer One and there was one of those crappy Acer 15 inch at 399$ I believe in the store. it didnt matter.
      The 300$ price range is my sweet spot. Come close to it and we can talk. Say 500$ and I move to one of the other 56 companies making these.

      If tomorrow Acer drops those clunky at the exact same price as the One, Im buying another netbook.
      I have a big tower and an XPS laptop. I dont need another laptop to lug around to kids judo/soccer. Heck, my wife isnt afraid to bring the netbook in the kitchen while she cooks as opposed to the expensive Dell. We can leave our kids in the car with a netbook on long trip, not the Dell. My wife can take the netbook on her train commute (I showed her), something she wouildnt do with an almost 2000$ laptop.
      I did buy my mom one of those big cheap Acer 15″ though.
      She needs bigger screen for her eyes and she leaves it in one place because its too hard to carry with arthritic hands. I put her Linux Mint (which is derivative of Ubuntu which is friendly and easy) on it and you dont notice that there is only 512meg of ram on this machine but at least there is a webcam.

      There is no reason why their prices should be the same but this netbook ‘fad’ is not a year old yet, prices will keep dropping. I see them being a nice comfort zone of 250-299$ with a few cheaper models going sub 200$. Keep it in the car, at the country place. Hopefully, carriers here will start giving them away like they do in europe when you take 2-3 year plans….just like the do for phones now.

      But even at equal price, it is not a cut and dry question because functionality plays an important role in the equation as does necessity.
      My wife and I need two netbooks actually (praying for the Duke Nukem Mini 9 w. Linux to appear) as do all our friends who commute to the city. My mom doesnt and that’s allright too.
      My brother needs a N95 phone because he’s a sales rep. I use VOIP for most of my work and one of those burners withthe pay as you go and pay about 150$ a year in cards. Buying a smartphone makes no sense to me, it does to my brother.
      Necessity.

  2. “Two years ago it was all about UMPCs. / now it’s all about netbooks.” — Um, aren’t netbooks a form of a UMPC? An Ultra Mobile Personal Computer? It’s just a different form factor of them. MID, UMPC, Netbook, PocketPC, Smartphone-without-the-phone, PDA… Whatever you call them. People want to be able to take their computers with them. Laptops work for that, but only to a certain extent. What I want is a clamshell style pocketable computer. Something like the upcoming Pandora ( openpandora.org ) Like a N810 with a bigger keyboard.

    But whether or not it’s a tablet form, a slider, a netbook-style clamshell, a suped-up smartphone, or whatever – how can you NOT see the market for a super mobile CPU?

    Intel, Via, and TI (with the OMAP3) are going to make a ton of money while AMD gets further and further behind.

  3. How could Intel update the AMD Geode? “Every now and then you can find an ultraportable laptop with a low power AMD Geode CPU, but it’s been a while since Intel updated this line.” I believe you meant AMD, right?

  4. He just doesn’t get it, does he? Some of us just want a small, lightweight, inexpensive computer we can take anywhere without getting armache or worrying too much about it getting damaged (due to SSD & low price tag)! Standard laptops are far too big and heavy to be TRULY portable, and PDAs are too limited for things like web browsing, watching films or serious document editing. Netbooks are the perfect in-between solution: more portable than a standard laptop and less restricted than a PDA.

    As for battery life, netbooks aren’t much worse than most laptops, and anyway, most of us don’t spend our lives miles from a plug socket all day when we need to use our computers. The “road warrior” market must only represent a small proportion of the potential market. And besides, the battery life is improving all the time on newer models!

    How did this man get a job which relies on understanding consumers?!

  5. I found this very amusing because AMD isn’t in the business of making laptops. Rather, they make CPUs (and other chips) so they should only care whether there’s a strong demand for “netbook-class” CPUs. Judging from the shortage of Atom CPUs, I’d have to say there is.

  6. As others have said, this isn’t surprising coming from a marketing guy at the company NOT making netbook chips. However, if he really does influence AMD’s road map as much as he says he does, then they are choosing to ignore a significant market.

    What he doesn’t realize about full-size laptops is that their growth has been tremendous on college campuses. That’s a large part of what’s driving the full-sized laptop market. And if a student only has $500 to spend on a computer, they are much better off with a laptop like what he described.

    However, what if a student is a bit more of a power user, and has closer to $1000 or $1500 to spend? What about a student who needs video editing, or graphic design capabilities, but would also like some portability for note-taking in class?

    You can get a lot more desktop performance for your money than you can laptop performance, and with the extra scratch, pick up a netbook for note-taking and web browsing on the go. My Acer Aspire One A150 was only $350, and it even came with a “real” hard drive. (Choice is a good thing!)

    I do think he’s right about one thing – too many netbooks have gone out of control with their pricing. But the only way to correct that is to make more of them! [=^D

  7. What the hell is it with the size queens?

    I dont want a HD because of heat.
    I like the quiet of my netbook.
    I dont want a moving part drive because I like being able to drop it in my gym bag (I can actually stay on the bike/stairmaster a lot longer since I bring it).
    I have over 1 terbabyte of drives in my computer/external wifi drive, I dont need space.
    I heavily use web apps like Gmail, Google Docs as well as yahoo.
    I bought an 8GB USB key for 18$ and 8GB SD card for 24$.
    (The Acer has TWO SD slots))
    I dont need more for the use I make of the netbook.

    Heck, I even have one of those small portable 80GB HD that are the size of a cigarette pack that I never use.

    I dont keep the latest Stargate episiode on my netbook but I have put a few episodes on the stick if I ever have time to kill and have no connection as well as tons of podcasts.
    But I also use ORB to watch my home collection of video when I have wifi on the road.

    And when we go longer distance, the kids load up their own USB sticks and watch their cartoons.

    Just because you can put in a bigger drive, doesnt mean you have to.
    Or that you need one.

  8. All of this reminds me of the universal discontinuing of their clamshells by the vendors like HP and LG in the late nineties on the grounds that “everybody” wanted a Palm-type device or a full-sized laptop. Even though at that point their clamshell divisions couldn’t keep up with demand. (!)
    I have no pretense anymore that computer companies are rational about this kind of thing, having seen them blow off profitable markets over and over and over. As I wrote on my blog last May, the amount of Koolaid drunk by Silicon Valley executives on these issues is enough to float a full carrier group and they’ve been telling each other for ten years now (with, admittedly, considerable “help” from Microsoft) that all users want bigger, faster, with more bells and whistles above all else OR they want a tiny little RIM-style device with a keyboard you could hide in a walnut shell.

    I’m tellin’ ya folks, I’ve been watching this space since the early nineties and for every technical limitation that’s keeping stuff from reaching us, there are five or six cultural ones. Here’s to the OLPC project for having played such a huge role in providing cover for engineers and designers who wanted to create the devices we’re seeing now.

  9. Now we can figure why AMD is not THE leader company, they seem to need some glasses. to the future.

  10. You know, for a marketing guy, this shows a significant lack of understand of the market’s direction. Here’s where he failed.

    1. Why was there such excitement over MacBook AIR? Size and weight! We wanted something we could use that didn’t weight 10 pounds including power brick.
    2. Why was there such excitement with the XO laptops? Weight and price! 400 bucks for something light was cool.
    3. Why did the market explode with the Asus EEE PC? Well, we’re all conditioned to surf the web on smartphones and PDAs and this little beauty made it possible to walk into meetings and take notes, do work, surf the web, and all the other things without having a huge 17″ monitor in front of us.

    With my Acer Aspire One, I can be in meetings, make notes, look up references, and still see everyone in front of me.

    So AMD will stay on the bulktops side of the fence. Fine. Enjoy. Leave the market to Intel and Via. And just a side note. My kids crave my Acer over their mom’s HP bulktop every day, even without the 15″ screen and DVD.

    1. @Paul: I agree with you but I doubt he is out of touch.
      He is a marketing guy doing what he does best: bullshit and lie.

      What was the ONLY manufacturer not involved in a netbook going to say?
      Was there ever any doubt what was coming out of his mouth?

      Someone mentioned that Acer had sold 2 million One’s this quarter and then that Apple sold 1.4 millions laptops in the first quarter which I believe was a huge one.
      Can someone confirm this?
      I know Apple makes a ton of profit on each machine but I am talking units moved.
      If this is true, then this is big.

      Acer sells more netbook per quarter than Apple sells all laptop lines is HUGE.

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