10.746. So?

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That’s the number of Opteron servers estimated to have been sold last quarter.

That’s not a lot. Less than 1% marketshare. About double the number of Itaniums, but Itaniums aren’t selling for as little as $180, either.

For those who thought Opterons were going to take the world by storm, hell, a few even said that they already had taken the world by storm, well, you were dead wrong

Does that mean Opterons have failed? No, that would be just as wrong and stupid to say.

The point of this article really isn’t about the number of Opteron sales. AMD knows quite well that acceptance of these processors into the server market is going to be a long, slow, haul. They didn’t expect big Opteron sales last quarter. They don’t expect them this quarter. They won’t expect them next quarter, or the quarter after that, or even the quarter after that one.

They know it’s going to take time to crack this market and build up a user base. Before they can even hope to sell any appreciable number, they’ll need big OEMs selling these things, and while they’re making slow progress on that front, they still haven’t persuaded the two biggest server makers (you know about Dell, but HP is actually a bigger player) to sell any, and those who have agreed to sell something are just adding Opterons to their product offerings, not replacing anything else with it.

For AMD to get up to its desktop marketshare in the server market will take years and they’ll be quite satisfied if they have 15-20% marketshare, say, two-three years from now.

And guess what? That would be a success for AMD, and could well be the difference between the company succeeding or failing over the next few years.

The Instant World…

The Instant World

A huge problem we face today is that a growing proportion of people (and this goes far beyond any AMDroids) lack . . . an attention span. For anything.

It is no longer sufficient for something to be a success; it must be an instant success, or it’s considered a failure.

This acceleration of judgment, this lack of attention span, extends far beyond such relatively trivial things like Opteron sales.

Just a handful of months ago, the United States went to war, an effort that involved invading a not-very-small country and occupying it. Throughout all of human history, this has been acknowledged as something that took some time; sometimes, quite a bit of time.

Yet within a handful of days, the media was hollering, “It’s been X days already. Why aren’t you done? There must be something wrong.”

Almost sixty years ago, the Western Allies invaded Normandy in an operation called D-Day. The war ended almost eleven months later.

Could you imagine today’s media reporting on World War II?

“General Eisenhower, it has been a whole week since you landed on the beaches of Normandy, and you still haven’t defeated Germany. You haven’t even gotten the Nazis out of France. What’s wrong with you?”

A few decades ago, the nominating process for an American President was a multi-month process. Often enough, a couple months after the primaries began, a political party still wasn’t sure who their nominee would be. People got to see candidates campaigning over prolonged periods of time in different places. In a perverse sort of way, the long road to a nomination was a sort of tryout for the U.S. Presidency, candidates had to perform under pressure for a long time. Minor candidates with relatively little money could try to do well in an early primary, and there was enough time to raise money for later primaries.

This obviously had to go.

Now, to have a chance, you have to be a major candidate with major money long before the time the first primary rolls around, or you’re roadkill. The decision-making process keeps getting shorter and more intense. Flaws that only come out in the long run don’t, trifles assume earth-shattering proportions.

People yell about money playing too much of a role in politics, but if you really look deeply into the problem, most of the need for money is really due to either the acceleration of the decision-making process and/or the abbreviation of the electorate’s attention span.

If we are so irrational as to expect instant gratification and results from something like war, just imagine what we do with lesser subjects.

Just for one example, let’s take movies. Not so long ago, movies were expected to be around a while, certainly weeks, sometimes months. Some rather successful movies didn’t do so well the first week or two they were out, but word of mouth in the long-run proved to be the best advertising.

This has changed dramatically. It’s thumbs up or down that first weekend, and God help the moviemaker if the receipts aren’t too good those first few days.

A bit nearer to home, music has been affected the same way, too. Bands aren’t given time to grow and develop, simply because it takes so much promotional money to bring a band to mass attention. It’s sink or swim, and if the Miracle-Gro treatment doesn’t provide immediate results, it’s cut your losses and move on to a new act.

Sounds a lot like the situation with American politics, doesn’t it? It ought do, they share the same acceleration of time/abbreviation of attention span.

Don’t Judge So Quickly

As you can see, a lot of problems not-so-obviously stem from the instant world. It’s obvious why it isn’t so obvious, people don’t focus on the problem long enough. 🙂

But some things take time, and can’t be rushed. Your parents didn’t throw you out your crib and told you to earn your keep the first weekend after you were born, nor the second, or tenth, or hundreth, or likely even the thousandth weekend. Whether they liked it or not, you were a long-term project.

From the emails I get sometimes, some of you need to realize that about yourselves, too. Often, I get notes from people saying they won’t get involved with something because the activity won’t yield immediate results, or even be successful.

The problem is most worthwhile activities fall into that category.

Not everything happens immediately, and when it doesn’t, people need to get out of the knee-jerk mindset that something has to be wrong. Even “instant successes” often take years of preparation.

Now what does this all have to do with AMD and Opteron?

AMD and Opteron is much more like World War II than a first movie weekend. Even if successful, it will be a long, hard fight that will take years, and success is by no means guaranteed.

That’s life. The folks at AMD know that. You should, too.


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