Market Share vs. Market Awareness
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Do you own a notebook with an AMD processor? Today AMD is supposed to have a market share of almost 40% in the US mobile market. This is definitely a respectable number. However, when you look around, it seems awfully hard to find the notebooks responsible for this number. The large OEMs especially don't seem to carry a whole lot of AMD-based laptops. Toshiba, Dell, Gateway and Micron don't offer any AMD-based notebooks at all, while Compaq, HP and Sony do indeed carry a small number of Mobile Athlon processor-based models, but all of them are of the low-end/ low-price consumer type. The message seems clear: if you require a notebook good enough for business or if you want your laptop to be of above-average performance, forget about Mobile Athlon.
Now, it might be fair to say that it is exactly those inexpensive consumer notebooks that sell well, or that sell in large numbers, thus explaining AMD's 40% market share claim. However, it is very hard to earn merits with products of this kind. Look at the publications that do those run-of-the-mill kind of notebook reviews and you will find an utter lack of reviews of notebooks with AMD processors. I guess this is the reason why that 40% is so hard to believe. You hardly see evidence of a large number of Athlon-based notebooks in the press. I doubt that this 40% market share results in AMD earning 40% of the revenues in the mobile processor market.
AMD's Old Image Problem
Now why would it be that only "El Cheapo" notebooks come with Mobile Athlon? I see two possible reasons. The first one is the good old term "positioning." This "law" says that a high-end notebook has to come with the top-notch Intel mobile processor and cannot possibly carry an AMD CPU. Especially in the notebook market, Intel's reputation and dominance is unbroken. Customers want "Intel Inside" and AMD hasn't done a whole lot to make Mobile Athlon more popular; have you ever seen an AMD commercial presenting Mobile Athlon? Even the recent name change from "Mobile Athlon 4" to "Mobile Athlon XP" occurred almost unnoticed. The fact remains that a notebook with an AMD processor has to be inexpensive, as if to excuse the usage of the non-Intel microprocessor.
The other reason for the low-end curse on Mobile Athlon is the amount and quality of mobile chipsets available for it. There simply isn't a proper low-power/high-performance mobile chipset available for the AMD processor. While Intel has i830M or i845M, AMD has nothing. While the Taiwanese chipset makers might have reached a reasonable reputation in the desktop market, OEMs have little faith in mobile (high-end) chipsets from VIA/SiS/ALi. Without a proper chipset, there ain't a proper notebook. It's as simple as that.