Print 24 comment(s) - last by MarkHark.. on Nov 15 at 9:03 AM

AMD Personal Internet Communicator

AMD's Personal Internet Communicator gets the boot

AMD's $185 Personal Internet Communicator (PIC) was introduced in 2004 and has never amounted to any serious financial gains for AMD. With little interest in the device and wide-support building for the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative, AMD saw no other choice but to can the project. The PIC was seen as AMD's first step in its 50x15 initiative to provide low-cost computing technologies to emerging markets.

The 3-pound PIC featured an AMD Geode GX processor, 4 USB ports, 10GB hard drive, 56k modem, integrated audio controller and VGA output. The device ran Windows CE 5.0 and included Internet Explorer 6.0, Macromedia Flash, PowerPoint viewer software, Windows Messenger, a spreadsheet application, an image viewer and zip compression software.

As for the OLPC, which is now called the XO, production has just begun for the device. The first ten hand-built units were just recently assembled and another 900 are expected to be produced by Quanta next week. It was recently reported that the XO had garnered support from Brazilian government while at the same time lost support from Thailand.

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good try
By Quiksel on 11/13/2006 2:41:32 PM , Rating: 3
It's hard to fault them on this move. Seems like a pretty logical decision, especially now with the XO making headlines every other day.

RE: good try
By TomZ on 11/13/2006 3:25:38 PM , Rating: 3
I agree - AMD's core competency is not in designing, manufacturing, and selling low-cost computers. They should stick to selling processors which is what they do best. Developing a product as a technology proof-of-concept is one thing, but it should be left to other companies to actually bring products like this to market.

RE: good try
By mindless1 on 11/13/2006 3:55:14 PM , Rating: 2
Actually that seems to have little to do with it, laptops just have a higher WOW factor and were also marketed better, and we do know marketing has been one of AMD's weaker fronts for years- I can't even recall the last AMD commercial, think it was people riding bicycles over a year ago.

RE: good try
By Araemo on 11/13/2006 4:49:21 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think AMD really has a marketing problem at this point in time.

They need to be thinking about it for the future, but since they're already selling every chip they can make as fast as they can make them... What good would advertising do? allow them to charge more? Perhaps, but they'd have to pay for the advertising, which would offset much(if not all) of the gain. Wait until their production starts to catch up with demand, and then I bet we'll see some targeted, niche advertisements. They can't really compete with Intel's built-in brand recognition, but they can target emerging markets and developing market segments and advertise heavily to them.

RE: good try
By TomZ on 11/14/2006 9:37:29 AM , Rating: 2
Intel has no built-in brand recognition - they bought that recognition through marketing, just like AMD did. Also, Intel has no more advantage in new markets than AMD, since neither brand is known.

AMD needs to continue to advertise, even if they are selling 100% of their capacity, in order to avoid losing future market share and more ideally to continue to grow their market share in the future. Intel is currently advertising very aggressively, and while there is a "lag" effect, in a year or two, this could come back to haunt AMD if they were to decide they don't need to continue to advertise now.

RE: good try
By MonkeyPaw on 11/13/2006 6:38:36 PM , Rating: 2
Except that developing countries are the future of most international businesses, as they are all looking for a way to get their foot in the door in relatively unrestricted markets. That way brand recognition is not a problem once the country has "developed" and the average income allows for luxuries like the PC. AMD can't just throw CPUs at countries that don't even have computers. Instead, they have to provide entire systems so that people can start to see the benefits of computers.

RE: good try
By TomZ on 11/14/2006 9:22:06 AM , Rating: 2
But computer manufacturers also see the opportunity in developing countries, and will thus sell AMD processors into that space, assuming AMD's features, performance, and price are right. There is no need for AMD to itself develop and sell computers into that market in order to gain market share. And furthermore, existing manufacturers frankly have more expertise and experience, and so can probably be more successful than AMD who have not ever done the same. Selling computers is not the same as selling processors - not even close.

Buy one
By ajfink on 11/13/2006 9:55:34 PM , Rating: 2
I would have bought one, just like I might buy one of the new OLPC's. Buying one here in America above the production cost helps produce more, cheaper.

RE: Buy one
By Master Kenobi on 11/14/2006 8:31:43 AM , Rating: 2
Or........... you could get yourself a real laptop that has practical application here in the states.

RE: Buy one
By ajfink on 11/14/2006 11:52:54 AM , Rating: 2
Hehe, yeah, you guys have an argument there, but what I meant was that I would like to help support what they're doing, and by buying one, I would be doing that.

RE: Buy one
By TomZ on 11/14/2006 9:38:47 AM , Rating: 2
I agree with Master Kenobi - OLPC is a toy computer compared with a real laptop. You get what you pay for.

By Fnoob on 11/13/2006 5:10:20 PM , Rating: 2
The real point of the product is charity. It should not have been intended to produce financial gains for the company. If they can produce such a product and break even, that would be ideal. Financial losses in this category should be categorized as charitable donations. A product such as this does not fit the typical business model.

RE: Philanthropy
By TomZ on 11/14/2006 9:25:14 AM , Rating: 2
It is not in AMD's goals, or that of its shareholders, to pursue charitable donations or philanthropy. AMD's shareholders send a clear message of what the objective is: profit. Other organizations like OLPC are more geared towards saving the world.

RE: Philanthropy
By MarkHark on 11/15/2006 8:42:00 AM , Rating: 2
I think Fnoob meant the OLPC, not the PIC.

The original reason behind the OLPC project was clearly NOT profit, but rather promoting the use of computers as educational tools in poorer, less developed parts of the world.

Design flaws
By lemonadesoda on 11/13/2006 6:46:08 PM , Rating: 2
56k modem
OK, so these poor people who can't afford a proper laptop, or a hot meal, have a decent telephone connection with free (or very very very cheap) internet access? No. I don't think so.

RE: Design flaws
By TomZ on 11/14/2006 9:27:18 AM , Rating: 2
The PIC was more designed for developing countries with existing infrastructure that have cost-sensitive markets, e.g., Mexico. The comparison between PIC and XO in that sense is not entirely accurate.

RE: Design flaws
By MarkHark on 11/15/2006 9:03:08 AM , Rating: 2
PIC, unlike OLPC, was intended for people (perhaps even institutions such as schools and libraries) that don't need a full-fledged computer, or the flexibility to run a wide range of applications, yet need a simple, cheap way to provide access to world-wide information. Some of these places might not even have access to broadband, but they certainly have an available phone line, so AMD was right in including dialup support.

First time I've heard of this
By kmmatney on 11/13/2006 6:56:56 PM , Rating: 2
First time I've heard of this...or at least if I did, I long forgot about it. I agree that AMD should just stick with processors and other chips. If Apple had made this, maybe it would have done better...

RE: First time I've heard of this
By dug777 on 11/13/2006 9:00:19 PM , Rating: 3
Agreed, i've never heard of the thing until now either.

(Aside, why on earth did that comment get rated down?)

RE: First time I've heard of this
By WelshBloke on 11/13/2006 10:17:28 PM , Rating: 1
(Aside, why on earth did that comment get rated down?)

He forgot the rule.

'Never mention Apple unless you say something positive' ;)

Assembled by whom?
By vanka on 11/13/2006 3:11:55 PM , Rating: 1
The first ten hand-built units were just recently assembled

Assembled no doubt by those who are supposed to benefit from the OLPC/XO machines.

By Spar on 11/13/06, Rating: -1
RE: Assembled by whom?
By Russell on 11/13/2006 4:53:51 PM , Rating: 2
The same thought hadcrossed my mind as well.

RE: Assembled by whom?
By TomZ on 11/14/2006 9:32:24 AM , Rating: 2
Assembled no doubt by those who are supposed to benefit from the OLPC/XO machines.

Probably not - since the customer (OLPC) is here in the U.S., my bet would be that Quanta build these early prototypes at one of its U.S. locations, e.g., Nashville, TN. Many times contract manufacturing starts here in the U.S. and then moves overseas to save costs once all the build issues are worked out.

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