Intel: It wasn't always easy

Summary : Most assume it has been paint by the numbers for Intel, since IBM first selected their microprocessor for the PC. It was with this selection that we learned Andy was a marketing and sales genius. At the time, Intel was under increasing pressure from Japan in the memory market, which was half its business. Like Andy Grove's ...

Most assume it has been paint by the numbers for Intel, since IBM first selected their microprocessor for the PC.  It was with this selection that we learned Andy was a marketing and sales genius.  At the time, Intel was under increasing pressure from Japan in the memory market, which was half its business.  Like Andy's earlier escape from Hungary as communists closed in, he now had to lead an entire company out of increasingly dire market conditions.  He chose microprocessors and the path out.

In the middle of this, late one week, Intel was informed that they had just lost the design-in decision to Motorola.  Motorola's processor had better performance and that had won the day.  Intel was offered the consolation of coming the following week to make one more presentation before the decision was final.   Andy and Bill Davidow holed up over the weekend to put together a presentation to win back IBM.  

The started with the simple marketing game: get inside the customer's mind.  Listing all the issues of importance to IBM, they then prioritized them.  Was performance them most important feature to IBM?  Maybe, but using Motorola would give them few ways to differentiate their product from Apple's.   Moreover, IBM had always been about futures because it was a company to whom long term support mattered.

Out of this came a simple derivation of Moore's law.  A chart was made with time on the x axis, performance on the y axis, and a line emanating from the ordinate at a 45% angle.  A series on the line highlighted a multigenerational product plan for the 8086, the 286, the 386, and the 486 (each with steadily increasing performance).  The capabilities of each were then listed in decreasing detail.  The most important feature would be intergenerational compatibility -- a first for microprocessors.  Thus, IBM could build a long term product plan that would guarantee they could easily support their customers.  It would allow customers to reuse work and data as each generation progressed -- a powerful new feature.  In a stunning turnabout, the future of computing was changed as was the chip industry.  Andy walked out with the order.

The lesson learned: know your customer better than they do, know how your technology can solve their problems, and when all else fails, sell futures.

You may like this also:

Access to and use of this Website is subject to VLSI's Terms of Use (including Copyright Policy & Claims) and Privacy Policy. By accessing or using this Website you agree to VLSI's Terms of Use (including Copyright Policy & Claims) and Privacy Policy.

Copyright © 2021 VLSI Research Inc. All rights reserved.