How Will Intel’s Evo Affect Hardware Quality?

    Recently we had the 25th anniversary of Windows 95, and one of the things that destroyed what otherwise could have been a powerful recurring OS launch event was the lack of quality ownership.

    This historical lack of quality ownership has been an enormous problem for the PC industry ever since the birth of the PC because, unlike virtually every other platform, when there is a problem with the PC, folks often find locating the party to blame to be problematic.

    With most products not in the traditional server or PC space, the OEM specifies to great detail what goes in their offering and that OEM owns the result. Still, with PCs, one company owns the OS, another owns the CPU and chipset, maybe a third owns the GPU, then a fourth may own the storage system, and finally, a fifth may own the security of the resulting device.

    Granted, this has mitigated somewhat over the years with Microsoft picking up OS security, but on the hardware side, it is still pretty much a mess, well until Intel Evo. Let’s chat about that this week. 

    Intel Evo Could Change the PC Market

    Evo is a brand somewhat like what AMG is for Mercedes in that it is virtually tied to a unique hardware configuration, one where Intel takes responsibility for the hardware quality. Intel assures that the major systems components interoperate, that they are well-matched, and that the customer gets the full capability they were promised.

    Up until now, Apple was the vendor that most closely took ownership of the hardware they created because they uniquely specified all the components and had their operating system. As Microsoft moved to match Apple’s OS reliability, there still needed to be an effort to do that same thing with hardware, and this is where Intel first stepped up.

    Evo branded PCs, and there will only be a handful of them, go through 200 additional tests. The first products out of the gate will be the Acer Swift 5, the Asus ZenBook Flip S, the Lenovo Yoga 9i, and the Samsung Galaxy Book Flex 5G.

    Interestingly, only one of the top three OEMs has entered this program, but that is likely because the top three vendors tend to already extensively test their products and most likely thought the brand was redundant. Lenovo entering this process may change their minds because Intel is expected to wrap this brand with effective marketing, which, if practical, will push people to Evo products and away from products for any vendor that isn’t Evo.

    It is interesting to note that none of these notebooks are Enterprise-class; they are more mid-market or consumer-focused offerings. Ideal for working from home but not tied to the more rigorous programs that enterprise products undergo. Yet, with this testing, and the focus on component consistency and reliability, they could outperform those often more expensive offerings.

    If this effort is successful, it could substantially change not only how the PC OEMs approach this market but how platforms from AMD and Qualcomm mature. NVIDIA may have to either partner to counter or approach this exposure very differently with something like a cloud hybrid platform that makes more use of their high-performance on-demand cloud technologies.

    Wrapping Up: The Changing Face Of Quality

    There is a book I read when I was young called Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance, and it used the construct of a father’s motorcycle trip with his son to discuss the transient and relative nature of quality. It is less a discussion on quality than on how people perceive it, and even though it is fictional, I found it a fascinating think piece. It had me thinking very differently about the concept of quality. In particular, how quality could be manipulated both by the user and by the company that produces a product.

    It is interesting to note that the author separated people into those that believed in the romantic aspect of quality (think of Faith) vs. those that believed in the absolute fact-based version of quality. Apple sells the romantic version of quality; you have Faith that an Apple product is right, Evo is based on the factual approach where extensive testing backs up the brand.

    The success of this effort may depend directly on how many fact-based buyers are out there vs. those that are more romantically inclined. Evo is a fascinating experiment at scale and one that should have substantial advantages in terms of customer experience.

    Rob Enderle has been a TechnologyAdvice columnist since 2003. His areas of interest include AI, autonomous driving, drones, personal technology, emerging technology, regulation, litigation, M&E, and technology in politics. He has an AS, BS, and MBA in merchandising, human resources, marketing, and computer science. Enderle is currently president and principal analyst of the Enderle Group, a consultancy that serves the technology industry. He formerly worked at IBM and served as a senior research fellow at Giga Information Group and Forrester.

    Rob Enderle
    Rob Enderle
    As President and Principal Analyst of the Enderle Group, Rob provides regional and global companies with guidance in how to create credible dialogue with the market, target customer needs, create new business opportunities, anticipate technology changes, select vendors and products, and practice zero dollar marketing. For over 20 years Rob has worked for and with companies like Microsoft, HP, IBM, Dell, Toshiba, Gateway, Sony, USAA, Texas Instruments, AMD, Intel, Credit Suisse First Boston, ROLM, and Siemens.

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