News.com's Michael Singer has published a story with the headline Could HP's AMD laptop sway Dell. Earlier this week, HP introduced an AMD Turion 64-based notebook that targets the SMB market. But based on my audio interview of AMD and HP officials, I wrote that HP shipped an oddly positioned AMD64 notebook in the name of choice (an interesting decision, but their should be other rationale besides simply choice). In response to Singer's question, I penned a TalkBack to say that if Dell comes out with an AMD notebook, it will have nothing to do with HP's offering. Here's are the two reasons I said why:
1. Of the various divisions within HP, the system division has not experienced any extraordinary success over the years from a financial perspective. It has great marketshare in certain categories, but overall, the company's stock has been a dog compared to its peers and the printing and imaging business has been the only major shining spot in the company to keep the stock from seriously tanking. And now, Dell, which is not in any financial distress, has the resources to inflict a mortal wound on that division as well. So, at this point, in the larger competitive landscape, if I'm Dell and I want to drive a nail into HP's coffin, I'm not going to bother going after a division that's already sitting on the cusp with a little move like a response to an AMD-based notebook. In the big picture, it's just no big deal. The AMD notebook is not going to move the needle in any significant way for HP and Dell isn't going to get a significant return on that investment from a competitive point of view. What I'm saying is that if Dell offers a AMD product, it won't be because it's responding to HP. It will be because the AMD offers some value Dell cannot deliver with an Intel chip. This leads me to my second point which is....
2. Whatever that value might be, no one is really willing to talk about it and until they do, vendors who sell AMD product are selling themselves short. My case in point is what HP is saying about the offering. Beyond saying that this offering gives customers an upgrade path to a 64-bit operating system and that it's another "choice", the company refuses discuss how the notebook compares to an Intel-based offering in terms of some of the Turion's most important attributes: battery life and 32-bit performance. To add insult to injury, just supposing it would rather discuss the 64-bit story instead of 32-bit performance, HP doesn't ship the unit with any 64-bit OS. Not 64-bit Windows. Not 64-bit Linux. Only 32-bit Windows. AMD should be elated at the idea that a Tier 1 vendor is including the Turion in a business notebook. But I very much doubt that this is how AMD would like the story of its technology to be told.
There are few other polygamous situations (I can't even think of one) like this one where vendors won't help buyers to understand how a product compares to other offerings based on price, performance and battery life and for this reason, buyers will have no choice but to be confused by such offerings. If Dell does come out with an AMD notebook, I hope it breaks the chain by saying here is how this notebook compares to our other ones (AMD or not) as well as the competitors'.