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How Can Vendors Make 64-bit Computing Attractive?

In One Word...

  • May 23, 2005
  • By Rob Reilly

Marketing.

That's what vendors need to do to make 64-bit computing attractive.

To promote and sell, you can either find a market and fill the need, or, invent the product and create the market.

The hardware inventing has been done. AMD and Intel both have viable 64-bit architectures. Machines are available in various server, desktop and notebook configurations. A quick peruse through the Sunday newspaper inserts show that consumer electronic retailers stock a huge numbers of HP AMD 64-bit based desktops and notebooks in any given week.

"The software inventing has been done, too. Linux, in several flavors, has been available for a year or two. Even Windows 64-bit has finally come onto the scene. I can tell you that Linux on a high-end 64-bit notebook is fast and a joy to use. I don't know about Windows, because I probably will never purchase the package myself.

Obviously, there is a need for 64-bit computing in the corporate world, especially in the data centers, because as we slowly pull out of the Dot-Com and 9-11 doldrums, companies are beginning to loosen their purse strings and are starting to upgrading to new hardware. Two and three year old desktop and notebooks will also need to be replaced (at least from a fiefdom/�spend the budget� point of view) and 64-bit hardware is competitively priced with older 32-bit systems. It also offers the promise of upgradability, although that concept is a little fuzzy right now.

The common remaining denominator is marketing.

Nobody knows what 64-bit can do.

Here are three things vendors can do to improve their marketing of their 64-bit vision:

Forget about the Linux on the server vs. desktop debate

Linux works on servers in the data center. There is no disputing that fact.

On the other hand, with changing work habits, having the portability of a notebook is more desirable than being tied to one location and a desktop machine.

SUSE 9.2 runs great on my new HP 5460 AMD Athlon notebook. Maybe I should become a one-man promotion department. Sure there were a few tweaks that needed to be done to get it running right, but nothing a vendor couldn't accomplish before the machine went out the factory's door.

The price of the notebook was reasonable at less than $1400, while SUSE 9.2 retails for less than $200. I have a screaming wide-screen notebook that does everything I need. I'm sure it could do 95% of what other users would need and then some.

Put Linux on your 64-bit hardware and go show it to somebody

I have yet to see any vendors approach Linux User Groups with an offer to demo their 64-bit machines.

I sure haven't seen many 64-bit machines on display at conferences, I've recently attended. Maybe, I've just been going to the wrong conferences.

I have yet to see Linux on any notebooks (not to mention just 64-bit) in retail stores. Oh, sure there has been talk, but no action. I guess Linux vendors will eventually get teamed up with hardware vendors and do some partnerships.

It seems like software and hardware vendors could put their collective marketing heads together and come up with programs that show the customer some real life examples of 64-bit computing success.

For crying out loud, get your retailers some tech training

It's no wonder consumers aren't interested in 64-bit computing, in the big retail stores.

For one thing, Windows is just coming out with a 64-bit version and retailers have no experience with or knowledge of the 64-bit environment or how it helps the home computer user.

And, sales people know sales techniques, not technology. They seem to be able to sell the hype, but don't know what the hype for 64-bit should be. They don't know understand how 64-bit technology could possibly help someone's business become more profitable.

Training up the sales channels on Linux, 64-bit and how it helps the consumer seems like a reasonable thing to do.

The Linux community and hardware vendors have a golden opportunity, right now, to grab a big share of the small business and consumer computing market.

The opportunity will pass by unless consumers are �enlightened� about what 64-bit can do.

That's called marketing.

Rob Reilly is a consultant, writer, and commentator who advises clients on business & technology projects. His Linux, personal branding, and public speaking skills-related articles regularly appear in various high-end Linux and business media outlets. Send him a note or visit his Web site at http://home.earthlink.net/~robreilly.

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