Microchip Maker AMD Aims at South Africa

Computing

Microchip manufacturer AMD aims to increase its market share in SA from a mere 5% to 29% in the next few years after opening an office in the country. Although the move initially raises its local staffing level from two to three, the new country manager has been instructed to make substantial headway in a market dominated by Intel. Imi Mosaheb would not say how much cash AMD has earmarked to support him as he launches new marketing campaigns, sales drives and training courses.

AMD's microprocessors and graphics cards are imported by local computer manufacturers Mustek, Sahara and Pinnacle Micro, which use the components themselves as well as resell them to smaller manufacturers.

Mosaheb said there was no intention of disrupting those channels, although he would be responsible for business development, including building relationships with key customers. He has 16 years of experience in the industry; for the past five years with AMD.

It was difficult to ascertain its market share in SA, he said, yet AMD felt it was selling more products than the 5% that analysts credit it with. "Our worldwide market share is 29%, so to bring SA in line with that would be good," he said. Its rival Intel is about 10 times bigger than AMD.

CEO Hector Ruiz said the new office would open next month as a result of AMD's significant growth in SA. According to research by BMI-TechKnowledge, its sales rose 61.3% year on year in 2006."SA is becoming increasingly prominent within the global IT market and is vital to AMD's overall success," Ruiz said.

Despite SA's population of 45-million, only 1,8-million PCs were likely to be sold in SA this year. "Given the size of the population, that's a phenomenal opportunity to figure out what you have to do to make sure technology is affordable," he said.

"Technology isn't useful if it's not accessible by the vast majority of people, so our strategy is to lower the cost of technology more so people around the world can have access to it regardless of the income of the individual."

While Ruiz was in SA he met President Thabo Mbeki and Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka to assess the local progress of AMD's 50x15 initiative. That is a scheme to provide affordable computers and internet access to half the world's population by 2015.

Ruiz also discussed AMD's presence in SA and its efforts to promote fair competition in the country. "Every segment of our life is affected by computer technology and the biggest source of innovation is fair and open competition. It's really important that the environment nurtures competition," Ruiz said. If growing its business in SA meant selling shares to local black investors, then New York-listed AMD was certainly willing to consider that, he said.

Business Day