Selling Alpha Maledom

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There’s some verbal benchmarks for the Athlon FX over at the Inquirer.

Despite the title of the article, “AMD’s Athlon FX beats Intel’s Pentium 4 3.2 GHz in almost every way,” the text reveals rather than the FX wins some and loses some against a 3.2GHz PIV, and could well have an edge in games.

A thousand dollar Athlon FX does as well as a thousand dollar PIV system. Is this news?

If that’s news, then shouldn’t the following be even bigger news: Approximately this level of performance can be pretty easily achieved with an overclocked 2.4GHz PIV core platform for less than half the price, and if you’re willing to settle for 80% of the performance, you can get an overclocked Athlon system for up to about 80% off FX prices.

How often do you think you’re going to hear that the next month?

Media Bias

There is going to be yet another ton of hyping over a product, this time around the Opteron FX and Athlon 64, over the course of the next month. Expect it to see very intense.

Before it begins in earnest, it’s important to recognize what is going on and why it is going on, and it’s not what you probably think.

Yes, there will be instances of places and reviews singing for their free supper, but there’s an even deeper reason why products few will buy anytime soon will be talked about so much.

Media is a cross between animal and plant. It needs news, it feeds on news, but give it just a little, and if it has to, it can make news grow.

Whether it’s war in Iraq or Athlon FXs, regardless of ideological tilt, once media hits fertile news ground, it wants the story to grow, so it has more to talk about. More stories, more readership, more money.

That’s the core media bias (and it affects us, too), and it really comes out when there isn’t much else happening. Like now in the computer hardware field.

Taken objectively, the initial FXs nor the Athlon64s nor Prescotts are going to have much real impact on audiences. But you can write a lot of articles about something you said “Wow” about than “Yawn.” Especially when “Wow” is what your audience wants to hear.

The Consequences…

The Consequences

However, these actions have consequences.

For a variety of reasons, from sheer fandom to a desire for a competitive market, people want Hammers to do well. To the extent they personally identify with the product or company or preference, hearing good things make them feel good, hearing bad things makes them feel badly. Since most people aren’t masochists, they’d rather feel better than worse, positive rather than negative.

However, thinking positive can often have negative effects on your wallet. Wanting to have good feelings about a product even when they’re not really justified often becomes a matter of “pay me now or pay me later.”

You hear a lot of a positive things about a product that make you feel good about it, all of a sudden it dawns on you that if just thinking about it makes you feel good, buying one will make you feel even better. This is especially true if you think things determine your value.

Then you start convincing yourself that this really is a good idea, and since emotions can often be the equivalent of a nuclear attack on intellectual defenses, you often find yourself warping your budget like a pretzel to get one.

You’re on a high, alright. Crash-and-burn comes later.

You’ve been had.

Be honest. We’ve all done it.

Is This Really Much Different Than That?

There’s a fascinating article over at Wired about how much business a particular spamster has done with its penis extension ads.

For those of you who would never admit to wondering about the effectiveness of these and similiar products, you might want to look at one of the links in the article. We won’t tell. 🙂

But really, when you get to the core of it, is there any real difference between marketing penis extenders and a lot of computer hardware these days? (I’m not singling out AMD; they all do it.)

I see more similarities than differences.

Both sell different versions of the same unrealistic dream: alpha maledom.

Both aim emotional appeals to those very vulnerable to such appeals; those who feel personally inadequate one way or another.

Both depend on the vulnerable selling themselves on the product to try to meet whatever unfulfilled personal need they have.

Finally, neither approach needs to work a whole lot to be profitably effective.

OK, the video card or CPU will at least work, unlike the pills, but that’s not the real standard. Who has ever become a legend in his own time (as opposed to his own mind), from a single hardware purchase for more than a fleeting moment?

You may say that I’ve just described modern day marketing. You’re right, but that doesn’t make it right, nor good.

We are hardly against people spending money on computer equipment. We just have a bias against them spending it foolishly, and you are far more likely to be foolish when you’re on the verge of an electronic orgasm than when you haven’t been emotionally shooting yourself up.

Again, we’re not singling out AMD. What we’ve been seeing and expect to see even more of over the next year or so is lot of products and technologies priced high, but not offering much more than those priced low. If you can’t sell them rationally, you try to sell them irrationally, by manipulating people’s desires to feel powerful and important.

We thought you ought to know.


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