Get Rid Of Computing Lingo

from the too-confusing dept

AMD’s VP of “Consumer Advocacy” (how do you get such a job?) is telling tech companies that they need to treat their customers better. His biggest suggestion: get rid of the confusing gobbledygook that comes along with any tech purchase. The average consumer has no idea what “1.6 GHz, 256KB L2 cache, 64MB DDR SDRAM” means, and (if anything) is more scared off by it than compelled to purchase. I’m not sure I completely agree with the argument, but there is definitely some element of the tech industry that forgets that not all of its customers are tech savvy.

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Comments on “Get Rid Of Computing Lingo”

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Vik says:

Fix those car dealer spiels too!

We need to ask for better, easier to understand car information instead of that dealers bombard potential customers. How can anyone in the right mind understand that a car has “2.4L 4 cyl. DOHC mated to a 5 speed standard tranny”. This is complete mumbo-jumbo. I propose this can be changed to (for example): “A nice economic car, with relatively decent-sized engine and etc.”. Of course I’d love to see this description used when looking for car parts: “my mid-size sedan with lower-level engine needs a front-right round thingy to make it run good…”.

Alex (user link) says:

No Subject Given

They should also get rid of that “V-6 engine, A/C, power windows” technical crap at the car dealership and just tell the consumers that the car is read, or white, or black, to avoid scaring potential car buyers away. And perhaps we should push for elimination of that “4-bedroom, large dining room” crap in the real estate listings and just have the realtor tells us whether house is big or not and whether it’s nice or not.

Ed says:

The More Info The Better

Even if you are a techie, it’s pretty difficult to translate a detailed spec like the size of the L2 cache into a quantifiable, tangible benefit. (Bigger is better, but how much better, under what conditions?)

Nevertheless, as long as you have a list of specs, you can at least compare one machine to another and get a feel for which one should perform better. That’s the same for automobile specs, too. There’s a lot more to a car’s performance than a 0-60 time, a skid pad number, and the braking distance, but at least they’re a point of comparison. (Actually, I suppose those are the equivalent of computer benchmark numbers instead of raw machine specs. Substitute engine displacement, tire size and brake rotor diameter for a more direct analogy.)

steve snyder says:

cars & clockspeed

I really liked the point about how cars have the same statistics that don’t mean much to consumers–any industry has jargon–in the market for a digital camdorder? washer & dryer? stove? Everything has complexities–but as far as I’m concerned, the best thing about the internet is the access to virtually limitless information on just about anything. There’s really no excuse for people to be uninformed unless they want to be. (Ignoring the digital divide becaue it’s a whole other issue).

About AMD, I have been somewhat on their side with the whole megahertz myth thing because it’s just not a very useful measurement. It’s exactly like buying a car based on the RPM of the engine–sure it’s remotely indicative of performance but without a whole lot of context, it’s a completely useless number. Look at IBM’s Power3/4 processors-they have relatively low clockspeeds–really almost laughably low. But it’s performance in server applications is many many times faster than Intel or AMD chips of the same processor speed. Unfortunately there trying to sell speed based on benchmarks doesn’t work because the chipmakers would just tweak the chip to the benchmarks rather than making them really faster for real world uses.

steve snyder

todd says:

No Subject Given

I agree with Ed and Steve. My perspective is that there was a time when these attributes mattered to the consumer (of that time). Small differences in those numbers could and did translate into vastly different experiences.

But the times have changed. The average consumer has changed quite a bit, as have the machines. Though Intel and AMD are loath to admit it, processors are commodities for the mainstream consumer. These attributes are irrelevant.

A new jargon might help AMD better describe their brand attributes versus those of Intel, but since there is no real difference in consumer experience among processors, a new jargon will do little more.

The specifics will always be important to afficianados, so they won’t disappear entirely. But since they just don’t matter to consumers, descriptions like “sporty,” “fast,” “cool,” etc. will suffice. Oh, I forgot “pretty”.

And do the red ones go faster?

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