Shaping the Future: Snapdragon’s Impact on AI PCs and Beyond – Six Five On The Road

Shaping the Future: Snapdragon's Impact on AI PCs and Beyond - Six Five On The Road

On this episode of the Six Five On The Road at Computex Taipei, hosts Olivier Blanchard and Anshel Sag are joined by Qualcomm‘s Don McGuire, SVP & CMO for a conversation on Qualcomm’s role in pushing the boundaries of technology through its Snapdragon platform. The discussion spans from the overall impact of the Snapdragon brand across various sectors including mobile, sound, XR, automotive, and the emerging segment of AI PCs.

Their discussion covers:

  • The evolution and recognition of the Snapdragon brand beyond mobile, entering new domains such as sound, XR, automotive, and AI PCs.
  • How Snapdragon’s entry into the AI PC platform with its next-generation features aims at redefining the PC industry.
  • The positioning of Snapdragon as both a technology disruptor and an innovation accelerator, and its strategic approach to market leadership.
  • Key differentiators of the Snapdragon platform in contrast to other technology solutions, and the significance of these distinctions for the wider tech ecosystem.

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Olivier Blanchard: Welcome back to Six Five On The Road from Computex. I’m Olivier Blanchard with my colleague Anshel Sag and we are joined right now by the man, the legend, Don McGuire, CMO of Qualcomm. So thanks for being with us.

Don McGuire: Thank you so much for having me.

Olivier Blanchard: And obviously we’re going to be talking about Snapdragon X platform. Congratulations on the launch.

Don McGuire: Thank you.

Olivier Blanchard: It’s been big news. So I want to talk about the branding though. We’ve been having a lot of conversations about the tech, but obviously the Snapdragon brand has been getting increasingly more recognition with new audiences through a variety of platforms and segments, so mobile obviously XR, I mean automotive, and now obviously PCs. So as the architect of that effort for the last few years, how do you see the future of the Snapdragon brand and how do you see all of these segments shaping people’s perceptions of the Snapdragon brand?

Don McGuire: Yeah, it’s been sort of a labor of love. I mean, it’s been great to have the support of Cristiano obviously, who as a CEO to have someone who believes in brand, believes in the power of it and how it can actually be a business driver, it’s refreshing. Especially for a company that’s rooted in technology and kind of overwhelmingly has a population of engineering-minded people to break through in that culture can be difficult. But we’ve managed to do it and we’ve made a lot of progress in the last five, six years. And what’s really beautiful about the Snapdragon brand is at its kind of core it really stands for delivering premium mobile experiences.

And because we’ve taken the core technology and the core platform that has manifested itself so well in smartphones and then taken the technology outside of that platform or outside of that device category into other device categories. The brand promise still stays the same, whether you’re talking about a car or a PC or a pair of glasses or a watch, premium mobile experiences is still the brand ethos of Snapdragon, regardless where it shows up in this device ecosystem, that is really kind of a personal device ecosystem. These are devices that are close to people’s individuality. They help people be creative, they help people stay entertained, and they help people be productive and live their digital lives. So it’s really fertile territory for the brand.

Olivier Blanchard: Yeah.

Anshel Sag: So with the arrival of the Snapdragon X PC platform and its next-gen AI capabilities, I was wondering if you could tell me how Snapdragon might reshape and even reset the PC segment, and also how the Snapdragon brand itself might change with the PC segment and how it’s communicated to consumers.

Don McGuire: Well, it’s a category where as a chip provider historically because of the great work that Intel has done for years, there’s relevance with consumers, with that end-user audience for the chip. It’s one of the only categories where that actually is authentically natural versus some of the other categories we operate in. So that actually makes it easier to sort of start a conversation. But it also makes it challenging because the requirement is you have to communicate all the way down to the user level. In some product categories where Snapdragon lives, we strive to communicate closer to the end-user and we push and push and push. But in the PC category, it’s a poll, it’s a natural automatic poll, and really Intel paved the way for that with Intel Inside.

So I think that it presents opportunities and challenges for us. It requires investment, it requires dedication, but I’m excited about it because it is the impetus of the chip being important and then all the way down to the user experience level and pulling that all the way through the channel and into the normal ecosystem of audience that we deal with, which is our customers for the most part.

So that’s exciting, it’s a new muscle and a new motion for Qualcomm to have to sort of craft go to market in a way that is almost as important as the product itself. And so we haven’t had to do that in any other category historically. And so we are really working hard to build the right architecture and put together the building blocks to be successful. How the brand morphs? There’s again, basic building blocks that are true about Snapdragon as a brand, no matter where it lives. And then there’s nuanced category specific touch points and messaging and storytelling that we have to do in the context of that device category. For example, in the PC category, beyond Snapdragon equals the power to move, which is our articulation of Snapdragon at brand level, at the top of the pyramid, we had to look at, okay, then what is that articulation of power to move for the PC.

And then once we figured that out, how do we then story tell that to our audiences, whether it’s consumers who might walk into a Best Buy or might walk into a Currys or go to to buy a new PC, how do we articulate that? How do we tell that story? We’ve decided to fork it a little bit. And because we started with the industry first, because we were building this ecosystem of credibility and we were building this group of partners to sort of vault us into the category. And so the articulation of how we’ve delivered Snapdragon to the ecosystem started with performance reborn, when we were talking about when we first launched the chip at Snapdragon Summit in October. Both of you remember that.

And then that transition to the PC Reborn when we actually had devices that were using the platform that we announced on 5/20 with Microsoft and now have taken that rolling thunder here into Computex. And now we’re highly anticipating June 18th, when these products get on shelf. But PC Reborn is really this message that we’ve sent to the ecosystem and to the industry, that we are driving this transition with Microsoft, with Dell, Lenovo, HP Asus, with the ISVs, with the channel partners and retailers, that there’s this new way to look at what a PC can be, and that’s worked really, really well. But that’s not necessarily the articulation that we’re going to use with consumers.

And so consumers, again, when you’re trying to introduce yourself, and starting at the very highest level of the funnel, so to speak, you have on average 15 to 30 seconds to tell that initial story, just to get people interested and wanting to learn more. So you have to up level. And in some markets we have the challenge of introducing Snapdragon as a brand and then introducing it into the PC category. And other markets, Snapdragon has such a high level of awareness, it’s just about landing us in category. So we’ve had to adjust our strategy depending on the market. China, it’s more about in category, in the US it’s more about introducing Snapdragon to a broader audience. So we’ve had to adjust that.

And what you’re going to see from us, we saw a little teaser of our consumer campaign launch with the Odessa video is, we’re starting out by basically introducing Snapdragon in a broad context and then driving quickly to how it’s landing in PC, with this idea and this insight that we gather from the research around how consumer perceptions and behaviors are changing and how the advent of a Copilot+ PC powered by Snapdragon can intersect with those changes of behavior.

And so it’s all around this idea called ready, set, flow. And it’s about entering a flow state. And people don’t want to do more. They already have enough to do. So screaming at them do more, do more, do more is just falling on deaf ears. What they want to do is they want to achieve more. They want to accomplish more, with the work that they are doing or the time they’re spending using these tools. And so this idea of entering a flow state, because you now have this Pervasive AI, you now have this assistance, you now have access to these tools that you never had access to before. Plus you’ve got performance, plus you have battery life, plus you have this amazing designed machine. It allows you to get to this next level, and it applies to your personal life as well as your work life. So this whole idea of flow state, you’ll see manifest itself in our consumer campaign and in our commercial campaign. And that’s the connective tissue that then we built the big idea and the creative process around is this idea of getting into a flow state.

Anshel Sag: I think that’s a really strong message. I think for a lot of us, our creativity and our productivity is based on a flow state-

Don McGuire: Absolutely.

Anshel Sag: … and being able to focus and block out all the different distractions that exist around us to really let us achieve what we’re hoping to succeed in our careers or in our personal lives. So I think it’s a great message.

Don McGuire: And you saw the video that opened up the show, Cristiano’s keynote yesterday, it was these people that were surrounded by notifications and disruptions and interruptions, and they were just blocked and they were just sort of confused and they were just frustrated. And then once our heroine had the Snapdragon PC, everything just disappeared and she was able to enter flow and get done what she wanted to get done. And that was a visual articulation of flow state. And so we’re picking up on that and that will be driven through the campaign.

Anshel Sag: Great.

Olivier Blanchard: Wow, that’s a lot to process. So now I feel a little dumb asking my next question, because it’s so much more basic, but having heard all that and trying to process this, I’m trying to think of the journey that Snapdragon’s been on and how Snapdragon, a few years ago we were talking about flagship experiences and performance. Now we’re talking about this, but also all of these new experiences, and so I wonder if, and maybe there’s a third answer to this multiple choice, but would you rather users think of the Snapdragon brand as a disruptor or as an innovation accelerator, or is it something else?

Don McGuire: That’s an interesting question. We’ve actually just recently done a lot of work around what is the evolution of Snapdragon, and where do we want to take it. And I’ve had these conversations with Cristiano. Eventually, our ideal state, our North Star for the brand is that we want Snapdragon to become a culture brand, an iconic culture brand. There’s different ways to achieve that. And there are different vectors you can take in different pathways to kind of get into culture brand territory. One of those ways is disruptor, and one of those ways is innovator. And if you look at the Venn diagram of all the research that we did, we lie in between the two and it’s a really good fertile space to be in, but we will maintain our disruptor DNA and our innovation DNA while building this personality around.

And we did a lot of work with a lot of our agency partners around, like I said, mapping out what people thought of the brand, where they thought the brand lived across different sort of attributes, and then where were their missing pieces, what were their gaps. And so we’re working to fill those gaps so that we can then present a whole brand picture or a holistic view of the brand as we move forward. And our journey is taking us to culture brand status. That’s where we want to be, oddly enough, organically we’ve been taking steps that move us in that direction.

Our brand partnerships that we forge with Manchester United and Formula One and our esports series with ESL, the Snapdragon Sonic that we’ve introduced, introducing sound into a way to articulate the brand. All those things are little steps. If you plotted them on a path, they’re all moving us in the right direction. But there are still gaps and are things that we need to do in order to move us along that pathway to get to the top of the mountain. And we’re having those discussions right now. And this launch into the PC space is going to be one vector of that journey. We’ve got these new categories that are still sitting in nascency like spatial computing, where we have a great position underlying position fundamentally from a technology, from a platform, from an ecosystem perspective, but the market hasn’t moved yet to this explosive mainstream sort of place.

So we have to prepare for that. And then what does that do? How does that move us in the right direction and what are the steps that we need to take to get there? Automotive is one of those areas where we’re going to have to push, push through our auto brand partners to try to get residency.

We’re actually making huge strides in China with our China partners, because they just slap Snapdragon on everything. Because we have 87% brand awareness in China, and it’s a revered brand, so they’re loving using it to sell their cars. But in the rest of the world, it’s more of a co-marketing, co-storytelling, adventure and journey. We’ve had great success with Cadillac so far. We’re doing some really amazing work with BMW, so we’re moving it, but it’s a push with automotive. Meta, our relationship with Meta has been fantastic. So in the special computing space, we’re already getting credit. Zuck has stood on stage and given us a lot of credit for how we’re contributing to their vision. So I think we’re going to continue to push along those lines with. And it’s always been really rooted in partnership. We have to tell our own story, but our story can’t stand on its own without partners. And so we’re constantly balancing that, but so far it seems to work.

Olivier Blanchard: Yeah, it is.

Anshel Sag: Yeah. I was going to say Meta’s used you guys to launch multiple products as the exclusive silicon provider, so it’s quite clear that you guys are both a disruptor but also an innovator. So it is a unique position to be in, and like you said, some of the markets are just kind of waiting for you guys to grab it by the horns as it takes off.

Don McGuire: Yeah. And it comes down to a lot of things including investment strategy. It’s not free. In order to build resonance and build affinity, you have to reach people multiple times. You have to hit people over the head multiple times for them to start understanding and educating them. And that takes time and resources. And so we’re pushing down that path. But I thought it was interesting, even across Computex. And it was funny kind of some of the jokes is like Satya did a bunch of videos and it’s the same background in every video and the same outfit. So he must’ve just gave him a chunk of his time and said, “We’re going to do all these at the same time,” which he’s a very busy man, so I understand why.

But if you watch those videos and if you watch how we articulated our partnership and how we used the phrase PC Reborn and how he talked about what we’re doing together to drive this inflection point, there was a specialness to that, that I don’t think you saw on the other and the other pieces. So even he’s kind of starting to pull through that messaging, which I thought was fantastic.

Anshel Sag: Great. One of the questions, and this is kind of a follow-up to that is what are some of the core attributes of the Snapdragon brand that you think differentiate it from other technology platforms, and why does that matter for your customers and your partners like OEMs?

Don McGuire: It’s a couple of different things. It’s the technology itself, because we’ve always had this heterogeneous approach to architectures, where integration has been always very important, not bolt-ons, right? How do we deliver this integrated SOC, this integrated platform that has all the different pieces to the puzzle. But it can’t just stop there. And I think a few years ago when the light bulb finally went on and said, we have to stop talking about features and stop talking about specs, and we have to start talking about experiences. We have to start talking about what does this tiny little chip do for you. And that led us to this whole idea of Snapdragon gives you the power to move. It’s kind of a nod to mobility, but it’s really about you, what does it do for you.

And so up-leveling to that experiential level, coming up with terminology like Snapdragon site, Snapdragon Sound, Snapdragon secure to explain and articulate the different components and the different parts of the platform are all pieces of that puzzle to express what we do and how Snapdragon is influential in enabling you to do what you need to do beyond X, Y, Z sort of spec, feed, speed, perf number X, Y, Z.

And because that is great when you’re doing inside baseball, when you’re talking to yourselves, when you’re talking to your ecosystem partner, when you’re talking to the tech community, but it falls extremely flat outside of that community.

Anshel Sag: Like Topps?

Don McGuire: Like Topps, exactly.

Anshel Sag: We’ve heard a lot of Topps this week.

Don McGuire: Yeah, exactly. I used to know them like a baseball card company, right?

Anshel Sag: Yeah.

Don McGuire: Yeah. And you’re hearing a lot of arms race kind of Topps conversations going on. “I got more Topps than you got. I got total Topps, I got MP.” And at the end of the day-

Anshel Sag: Yeah

Don McGuire: … it’s not going to matter. It’s going to matter is how well does this thing work for me, what does it enable me to do. I personally am biased obviously. We’re in a really good position to deliver on that promise without deep fakes, without up twos, without a lot of qualification. And I think that’s going to be the difference at the end of the day. Can you deliver on what you say? You can deliver on, not in one skew, not in one price level, not in one instance, or not in a lab, but actually where the rubber meets the road with your end user customer. That’s going to be how we win.

Anshel Sag: And I also think you guys have demonstrated the Snapdragon leadership with all of your competitors now setting you as the bar.

Don McGuire: I know we’re so flattered, right? That’s everyone just talked about us. You’ve arrived when everyone’s, when the rumor mills, they’re all in the party going, “Oh, they’re Snapdragon,” right? It’s actually flattering. You know you’ve entered, you’ve arrived. I think Cristiano put it, it was graduation day for us. And so that’s a good position to be, but we take it very seriously. We have formidable competitors, people that have been in this business for a long time, people who’ve controlled the value chain for a really long time, especially in the PC space. That is not an easy thing to overcome. So we know what we’re in for, but we’ve never shied away from a fight.

Anshel Sag: Great.

Olivier Blanchard: Yeah. Well, that looks like a good way to end this. Unfortunately, we’re out of time. So thanks a lot for sitting with us.

Don McGuire: Thank you for having me.

Olivier Blanchard: Yeah. Yeah, that was great. So stay tuned. Don’t go anywhere. There’s plenty more content to come from our coverage of Computex. Also, while you’re at it, follow us on the socials and hit that subscribe button and we’ll be right back.

Author Information

Olivier Blanchard has extensive experience managing product innovation, technology adoption, digital integration, and change management for industry leaders in the B2B, B2C, B2G sectors, and the IT channel. His passion is helping decision-makers and their organizations understand the many risks and opportunities of technology-driven disruption, and leverage innovation to build stronger, better, more competitive companies.  Read Full Bio.

Six Five Media is a joint venture of two top-ranked analyst firms, The Futurum Group and Moor Insights & Strategy. Six Five provides high-quality, insightful, and credible analyses of the tech landscape in video format. Our team of analysts sit with the world’s most respected leaders and professionals to discuss all things technology with a focus on digital transformation and innovation.


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