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Customers in charge

Posted: Kathleen Maher 09.18.17

One sure sign of a successful launch in the game industry is the rise of an unruly fan base, and AMD has that in spades. Vega is a competi­tive graphics chip for AMD with bench­marks that challenge Nvidia in perfor­mance and have the edge in price.

Unfortunately, as we have written here, that attractive price point and the ability to run at low power has attracted Ethereum miners. The new Vega 56 and 64 and popular Radeon RX 570/580 graphics boards are hard to get irritating the gamer community ... a lot. And, as everyone knows, the gamer community will be pretty vocal if they’re not happy. They also feel a very personal connection to the executives at the com­panies they buy from. I’m pretty sure, there are people who’d think nothing of calling Nvidia CEO Jen Hsun Huang in the middle of the night to ask him which graphics board to buy to play Call of Duty. (I wouldn’t advise this.) And they don’t think anything of bug­ging Raja Koduri about a late driver. (People do this all the time as if Raja’s at a desk somewhere writing drivers.) 

Raja Koduri has gone offline for a while, taking a break after Vega’s long march to market and also supporting the Ryzen/Threadripper launch events. In fact, it's kind of a surprise the lights in Santa and Clara and Austin didn't flicker as a whole bunch of employees fell back in their chairs for a collective whew.

AMD fans have been lobbing in re­quests, complaints, and general observa­tions to Raja and the AMD RTG (Rad­eon Technologies Group) and feeling ne­glected. PC Perspectives’ Ryan Stout has gotten ahold of Raja’s letter to his team telling them about his mini-sabbatical and has published it, raising a whole new raft of questions beyond when can I get my new Vega board. In the letter Koduri says AMD CEO Lisa Su will keep watch over the shop while he reconnects with his family. AMD watchers worry that Korduri may step aside from his leader­ship role and go back to design. In the letter he says, “As we enter 2018, I will be shifting my focus more toward ar­chitecting and realizing this vision and rebalancing my operational responsi­bilities.”

If it weren’t for the occasional stalk­er, this kind of relationship with cus­tomers is enviable, but kinda weird. Who cares that someone is taking time off from their job. It's a recognition that performance has improved at AMD since Koduri's return, but it's a failure to recognize that It takes a whole lot of people to design, build, and market products.

The next generation for Apple

It’s easy to be disappointed by Apple's semi-annual big announcements. Each one is promised to reveal the future and each one is fine, some finer than others but never quite all that. Apple really has a complicated relationship with its customers, and it too is pretty enviable. Especially since Apple people seem to be able to tolerate quite a bit of indignity. No one is going to call Phil Schiller up in the middle of the night for anything, and Tim Cook always seems slightly bemused to find himself running one of the biggest companies in the world. This is a company that long ago gave up serious interaction with its fans and the press and it hasn’t done them a dime’s bit of damage. In the end the company was not well served by its divine leadership in the form of Steve Jobs. It knows this and has put the spotlight on its executives such as Schiller, Craig Federighi, Eddie Cue, and the near-deity Jonny Ive.

In this issue, we talk about the ability of the Apple TV to really affect the pick up of 4K HDR TV by finally offering an easy reasonably priced source of content through iTunes. 

Talking poop

However, Apple’s phone roll-out re­ally seemed to miss the point. Apple is finally exploiting the potential of the Primse Sense technology acquired 3 years back enabling some wonderful AR applications, location mapping, new game features, but what did Apple high­light? Facial recognition and talking poop anemojis. A whlole lineup of phones are coming that exploit multiple sensors for depth sensing just like Apple. Yes, but. Can those phones enable you to express your deepest feelings though a poop emoji? Well, That’s the feature Apple’s Federighi seems most excited to tell us about. We’re assuming he was trying to find the best avenue to appeal to his customers’ hearts and turns out it’s talking poop.

The world doesn’t end with a bang or a whimper but in poop.