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Silicon Does NOT Lie!

Silicon Does NOT Lie!
by Daniel Nenni on 10-06-2014 at 7:00 am

 In the 30+ years that I have worked in Silicon Valley I have seen many great products fail and even more mediocre products succeed, the difference being how the companies communicate to the outside world. In the semiconductor industry, presenting the value proposition of your company or product is under even more scrutiny now that independent benchmarking and product tear downs have become prevalent. So why is it some of our marketing brethren still communicate like it was 1999?

Do you remember Osborne Computer and the “Osborne Effect”? Osborne computer pre-announced a new product only to have it delayed for more than a year leading the company to bankruptcy. People like myself did not buy the original Osbourne1 because we wanted the newer version that was pre-announced. Instead, I bought my first IBM PC and the rest is history. You should also be aware of the term “self-defeating prophecy”:

A self-defeating prophecy can be the result of rebellion to the prediction. If the audience of a prediction has an interest in seeing it falsified, and its fulfillment depends on their actions or inaction, their actions upon hearing it will make the prediction less plausible.

So yes, no matter how good your product or service is, how you communicate to the outside world is critical. And now with New Media (Twitter, Blogospehere, SemiWiki, etc…) and the resulting transparency the old guard semiconductor communications strategies just do not work like they used to. Invite me over for lunch sometime and I will share my SemiWiki New Media experience with your marketing communications people. It’s a 30 minute presentation with another 30 minutes for Q&A.

One of the services we offer to companies that subscribe to SemiWiki is strategic marketing communication. Pre-brief us on your communication plan or your product announcement and we will give you some very blunt feedback based on SemiWiki big data and our collective professional experiences. Having a pair of outside eyes looking in is ALWAYS a good idea whether you act on the advice or not, absolutely. Remember, we are not reporters, journalists, editors, or parrots. We are semiconductor professionals who trade on our reputations.

The infamous Altera slide is my new favorite example of bad marketing communication. Leveraging their intimate knowledge of the TSMC 20nm process, someone created this slide to not only defame Xilinx but to discredit TSMC and the fabless semiconductor ecosystem. Just my opinion of course but when the Xilinx and Altera FinFET based silicon becomes available there will be a tear down and the truth will be told. My bet is that a silicon correlated version of this slide will be an embarrassment to not only Altera but Intel as well. If I was pre-briefed on this slide no way would it have seen the light of day.

On another note, it amuses me when IDMs compare themselves to a fabless company or a foundry or even an IP company using revenues, employees, CAPEX, or whatever number suits their purpose. When in fact you need to take a company like Qualcomm, add in ARM, TSMC, Synopsys, Cadence, Mentor, and a whole host of other collaborators. There are hundreds of thousands of us in the fabless semiconductor ecosystem and we spend many billions of dollars every year on R&D and CAPEX. If you think David and Goliath is an interesting story, try hundreds of thousands of Davids and one Goliath.

More Articles by Daniel Nenni…..

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