Faceoff: Intel vs. AMD

Intel or AMD? The choice is yours. The two major names in the CPU space present their MEA go-to-market strategy

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By  Stuart Wilson Published  March 28, 2005

Channel strength|~|FaceoffMaanGeneral200.jpg|~|Maan Ahmadie, Intel channel manager for the Middle East, Turkey and Africa|~|Intel: with marketing muscle and comprehensive channel programmes in place, Intel continues to lead the way in the development of the Middle East and Africa (MEA) IT market and remains the vendor of choice for many assemblers in the region. Intel is serious about supporting its channel partners in MEA and its long-term role in driving the development of the regional IT industry. Speak to Maan Ahmadie, Intel channel manager for the Middle East, Turkey and Africa, and it is hard not to be impressed by his infectious enthusiasm for Intel’s role and his genuine belief that the region is poised for sustained long-term growth. Intel sees its role in the region as much more than just a components vendor. Dedicated reseller programmes, distributor support, marketing campaigns, government relations and end-user education are just some of the areas that Intel is actively involved in as a trailblazing pioneer of the MEA digital and IT revolution. “Intel has done a fantastic job during the last few years and this is why we see our channel growing year-on-year and the development of major assemblers in many markets around the region including Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Egypt to name but a few,” explains Ahmadie. “Moving forward in 2005 the task is to move to the next level and not just do a good job, but ensure that we are really doing a great job.” For ‘great job’ read even more investment in the region as Intel grows its own team, positions itself to face and support customers even better, and drives sales of its expansive product portfolio. The foundations for this ongoing expansion strategy have been laid during the last few years. Intel’s channel conference team has crisscrossed the entire region, racking up the air miles as they reach out to emerging assemblers. “In 2004 we went turbo,” continues Ahmadie. “This meant going into countries and visiting the tier two and tier three cities. In 2005 we plan to go even deeper as we build out our local presence and ensure that all the potential partners in these markets know about and understand the Intel proposition.” As well as discovering new customers and building new routes-to-market, Intel also remains committed to uplifting its existing partners. One aspect of this process is encouraging assemblers in the region to fully capitalise on the growing opportunity around mobility solutions. Final configuration of notebook PCs by local assemblers is now starting to gain traction in the region with Intel working hard behind the scenes. “If you asked two quarters ago whether or not local assemblers were producing notebooks I would have said it was happening but that it was quite tough,” says Ahmadie. “Mobility solutions involve joint ventures between ODM barebone suppliers, Intel, distributors and the assemblers. Intel holds mobility summits every six months in EMEA to bring all these parties together.” Intel has also played a pivotal role in driving government assisted purchase programmes across MEA. These schemes have now been launched in many countries across the region including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco with others in the pipeline. These schemes encourage even greater PC penetration and also play a valuable role in developing the in-country assembly market as governments specify that PCs must be manufactured locally. ||**||Push and pull|~|FaceoffMaanProfile200.jpg|~|Maan Ahmadie: “The credit insurance programme was brought to the region last year and now every single distributor is involved."|~|For Intel, the go-to-market model in MEA involves extensive push and pull marketing as well as the deployment of focused support at every level of the channel chain. Distributors have already seen considerable benefits from Intel initiatives in the region. Channel health programmes have been set up to provide distributors with a level of financial security as they follow Intel into new markets, increase their reseller breadth and build relationships with new customers. “The credit insurance programme was brought to the region last year and now every single distributor is involved in that,” adds Ahmadie. “We also have ‘deploy-in-a-box’ seminars for distributors to use when they run events for local channels. We are also piloting a working capital programme for distributors.” The assemblers themselves also stand to benefit from Intel programmes designed to help them grow their business. The ‘Intel Inside’ scheme remains one of the strongest marketing programmes available in the IT industry today and the processor giant wants to extend the benefits of this scheme to even more of its channel partners. According to Ahmadie, Intel is looking to appoint an agency that can act as a virtual marketing team for assemblers that may not have these resources available internally, allowing them to take advantage of the ‘Intel Inside’ programme as well. This programme also supports Intel’s own brand growth strategy in the region — an area that Ahmadie sees as crucial to the evolution of the market as Intel works hard to promote the value of new technologies. In the MEA region, Intel remains focused on ensuring that every partner receives the very best in terms of support, education and incentives. And what about the rival in the green camp? “Competition is a healthy market sign and at the end of the day the customers will decide what is best for them based on their own individual requirements,” concludes Ahmadie. “All our programmes are a result of listening to customers and being close to the market. We deliver a value proposition that makes our channel even stronger.” ||**||Alternative thinking|~|FaceoffTarekProfile200.jpg|~|Tarek Heiba, newly appointed regional manager for AMD in MEA|~|AMD: Positioning itself as a viable alternative in the market, AMD is looking to boost its MEA market share in 2005. With a new regional manager on board AMD wants to provide the perfect mix of product, price, support and services to attract local assemblers. Tarek Heiba is a man on a mission. The newly appointed regional manager for AMD is fired up and ready to go with a channel proposition for MEA’s assemblers both large and small. According to Heiba, cutting-edge technology and solid pricing points backed up by an excellent support and service infrastructure is the recipe for success as AMD embarks on an ambitious MEA growth strategy. “Throughout my career I have always enjoyed challenges,” says Heiba, who moved to AMD from his post as a senior executive with Dell in the region. “In my new role as general manager at AMD for the Middle East and Africa, the challenge is to build and grow the ecosystem in this region. I want our position and market share in this territory to be on a par with the global picture.” AMD’s regional distribution model will play a vital role for the vendor as it attempts to reach out to sub-distributors and resellers across the region. AMD currently uses Dubai-based Thacker as a master distributor. “Thacker acts as a point-of-contact providing logistics, RMA and service support to all our sub-distributors,” explains Heiba. “We already have sub-distributors in major markets and cities and will look to add more as demand grows and we reach out. We want to have full geographic and vertical coverage across MEA.” As AMD attempts to boost its channel breadth in the region, the vendor is keen to communicate the benefits that it believes its product portfolio offers assemblers and customers alike. “The products definitely provide tangible benefits to all market segments,” contends Heiba. “The Athlon 64-Bit processor is a best-in-class desktop solution for both business and consumer users with unique technology features. In terms of price, AMD is very competitive as well.” AMD prides itself on being a customer-centric company and Heiba says that the plans for this region will be a reflection of the market requirements. AMD’s channel initiatives will also be tailored to the individual requirements of the markets they are aimed at. “AMD channel programmes in the region are devised and implemented with the support of our regional distributor,” says Heiba. “The benefits of the programmes are built with the assemblers in mind and designed to help them boost market share and grow their profit margins.” “What is required from a channel programme for Saudi Arabia could be very different to what is required in the UAE, so we tailor the schemes appropriately,” continues Heiba. “Coming from the vendor side of the table, I believe that AMD has very strong channel programmes. Once channel partners are hooked they really start to trust AMD and appreciate what we are doing for them.” ||**||Targeting assemblers|~|FaceoffTarekGeneral200.jpg|~|Tarek Heiba: "With the help I am getting from the AMD team we should be able to do it. The market is ready for this.”|~|Local assemblers will be a prime target for AMD and Heiba sees the development of this sector as a major opportunity in the region: “The development of local assemblers depends heavily on the economic situation in an individual country. The tier one vendor space is very competitive and the price gap between an A-brand PC and a decently assembled local PC is getting narrower every day. Because of this, you need to have an economic situation where local assemblers can thrive and this often depends on the government.” With government initiatives now springing up around the region designed to promote local PC assembly and drive IT adoption, AMD is confident that it can tap into this growing segment of the market as it looks to recruit more local partners. “Throughout my visits around the region I have seen assemblers manufacturing PCs using AMD processors,” continues Heiba. “I cannot think of a single country that does not have an assembler using AMD processors. And I can promise you this: there will be even more and those already using AMD will produce more PCs.” Strengthening brand equity will also be a strategic focus in MEA and the vendor is looking to leverage its global relationships with A-brand vendors to promote AMD’s credentials. “Relationships with local assemblers and A-brands are important to effectively address the consumer and enterprise segment,” says Heiba. “We work closely with A-brand vendors and believe that through these partnerships we can build our brand recognition even further.” “Consumers need to understand the benefits of AMD to their daily life or their business environment,” continues Heiba. “The tier one vendors have excellent marketing and branding resources and we will look to work together with them, as we already do at a global level, to promote AMD in this region.” For AMD, introducing choice to customers across MEA — be they end-users or channel customers — is an important goal. “We want to expose the customers to all the technology that AMD has in its portfolio so customers can make an informed choice. I am sure that as the freedom to choose grows, so too will our market share.” For assemblers operating in the MEA region, selecting a CPU vendor to work with involves much more than evaluating the technology, and is closely related to the dynamics of a duopoly. Intel maintains massive market share in MEA and has invested heavily in push and pull marketing and channel programmes that not only strengthen its brand, but also breed powerful loyalty among customers. Increasing AMD’s market share will be a challenge but Heiba remains confident: “With the help I am getting from the AMD team we should be able to do it. The market is ready for this.” ||**||

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