AMD and the business of gaming

Semiconductor company expands its influence beyond the PC gaming to the living room.

David Kwon was recently promoted to managing director and corporate vice president of the Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ) region. He spent the past two years managing the AMD’s global business with Samsung and Toshiba, and joined the semiconductor manufacturer after spending more than ten years at Dell. Kwon comes into the top APJ role at an interesting time in semiconductor industry, with companies such as Sony and Microsoft getting ready to launch their new generation of video game consoles.

We sat down with the David Kwon to find out what AMD’s plans are for the APJ region.

What is your key focus in the new role?

AMD Asia Pacific and Japan managing director and corporate vice president, David Kwon (DK): I’ll focus on strengthening AMD’s component channel, build on the ongoing success of our consumer notebook and desktop business, along with establishing a firm foothold for commercial business growth and reinforcing AMD’s business with key customers across the APJ mega region. I’ll also be looking into emerging markets such as India and ASEAN with the aim of capitalising on the potential of these markets.

How does this compare to what your predecessor did?

DK: I created and have implemented a business strategy which I call my "Diamond Strategy" to emphasize on collaboration, alignment and communications between customer’s headquarters and regional sales teams, AMD GAM [global account management], and regional sales and marketing teams. Based on this strategy, we provide added value to our customers by helping them to sell their products in the market with our regional resources. AMD’s strategy in the past was to simply focus on selling our products to end customers. The “Diamond Strategy” was the key success factor in the rapid growth of business with Samsung and Toshiba, and I’ll adjust and adopt it to the APJ business to help our customers succeed with our products, and allow us to succeed in the market together.

Where does the Australian market fit into AMD’s APJ strategy?

DK: The Australia market continues to be a key focus for APJ, and a market where we see opportunities to grow share. Australians tend to be earlier adopters of the latest technology, so we are excited to be bringing to market innovative new products and form factors which will address key industry trends.

What are the opportunities for AMD’s component channel business?

DK: At CES in January, we introduced a series of upcoming products including the industry first X86 SoC [System on Chip], Kabini and the next generation of APU, codename Richland. Richland will offer even greater performance in both CPU and graphics, along with improvements in power consumption and satisfy most of the mainstream PC users’ needs. For graphics, we plan to forge greater inroads into the gaming industry this year, as well as offer huge benefits and values with the best graphics hardware from AMD.

How important is PC gaming to the company?

DK: Gaming has always been, and will remain, the core of the AMD graphics strategy and success. That’s why AMD runs the “Gaming Evolved” program to enhance collaboration with top-tier PC game developers and companies. It is also the reason why we rolled out the big promotions like “Never Settle” in 2012 and “Never Settle: Reloaded” for 2013. It is in order to provide the ultimate gaming experience to the PC gamers who are the most valuable customers for us. Combined with leading edge hardware, this gives us the best solution for gamers now and looking forward.

How has the ATI acquisition worked out for AMD?

DK: Thanks to the acquisition of ATI, AMD has been able to develop and provide quality APUs [Accelerated Processing Unit] such as Trinity. The APUs have been well accepted by worldwide customers and OEM manufacturers alike thanks to powerful discrete-like graphics performance, giving AMD leadership in graphics technologies for PCs. It also became the basis of AMD’s HAS [Heterogeneous System Architecture] initiatives, which enables the next generation in computing through the GPU.

How was it working with the Xbox 360?

DK: AMD has been closely working with console developers to evolve and improve the console experience for both gamers and game developers. It remains a major focus for us as we move towards the next generation of consoles. Console graphics is an important part of the AMD graphic strategy and business this year.

What is the health of PC gaming?

DK: AMD has been closely working with many console game developers who want to evolve and improve the console experience for gamers. As the PC game offers more realistic and immersive gaming experience to gamers with more advanced graphic technologies, we believe that the PC gaming market is still very healthy and will remain essential to our business.

Is AMD/ATI intentionally not as vocal as its competitors?

DK: AMD’s “Never Settle” gaming promotion at the end of 2012 raised huge attention and responses from worldwide gamers. The strategy behind “Never Settle” and AMDs “Gaming Evolved” program is to partner with industry leading game developers, as well as help them cultivate unique and more immersive technologies specifically for customers with AMD Radeon graphics. AMD is then offering these games as a bonus to customers who upgrade to the latest AMD GPU. This year, we launched the “Never Settle: Reloaded” program with the best PC game titles such as Crisis 3, BioShock: Infinite and Tomb Raider. We believe that the “Never Settle: Reloaded” bundle clearly stands apart from anything else in the market, so expect AMD to continue to ramp the offers and associated marketing activities relating to our gaming partnerships throughout 2013.

What's the outlook on the next generation of consoles?

DK: Obviously we are very pleased to be a partner with Sony for the PlayStation 4. It is a great win for AMD, in addition to the fact that the Nintendo Wii U is also using AMD Radeon graphics. However, I’m not in the position to comment on the rumours surrounding the Xbox.

Want to read other video game interviews with key figures from Sony, Microsoft and more? Then check out Good Gear Guide's complete interview archive.

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