Take note, tech writers: as of this morning, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors are no longer processors. Henceforth, the company would like you to refer to Snapdragon as a “platform.” In a post this morning, the San Diego-based chip – sorry processor – maker has detailed why it’s replaced one p-word with another. And why it thinks you ought to, too.
“[Processor] is a word that Qualcomm Technologies has embraced over the years with our Snapdragon brand, or as we say — our Qualcomm Snapdragon processor,” the company writes in a post, dropping a couple of hard Ps to prove a point. “But the word is an inadequate representation of what the technology actually is, and the solutions that tens of thousands of Qualcomm Technologies innovators have worked on.”
The piece goes on to explain that “processor” simply isn’t adequate to describe Snapdragon. And it’s true that the component company is doing a lot to shift with the times, working to cram more into its products, as it embraces AR and CR and drones and adds quick charging and biometrics to its products. But more than anything, the sentiment seems to prove that branding is hard – particularly if you make the stuff that’s inside the stuff that people buy.
Rarely have companies been able to break out from that box. Intel was a rare exception in the 90s, with Intel Inside, a marketing success at a time when ingredient branding was really hitting its stride. Remember when people started caring what sort of artificial sweetener they used? The 90s were fun.
Qualcomm is perhaps a bit on-edge. The company roundly trounced the competition in smartphone chip wars, and has actually had a pretty strong branding presence among early adopters who are as concerned about their device’s Snapdragon numbering as there are OS build. But lately more and more companies are looking to build chips in-house, in an attempt to stand out from the pack.
And then, of course, there’s the whole anti-competitive dust up that has found the company at odds with Apple and a number of global governing bodies like the FTC. That’s the sort of news cycle that will get your behind-the-scenes brand name noticed by a non-techy audience. But, well, you don’t want the first thing potential customers hear about you to involve a dust up with the Federal Trade Commission.
Of course, trading the term processor for platform isn’t going to change any of that. And in the company’s defense, this is a far subtler change than the millennial-bating, elementary school anti-smoking-style sketch presentation that was 2013’s “Born Mobile” campaign.
And hey, there’s something to be said for the second half of this news, which drops “Snapdragon” from the company’s entry-level 200 series, opting instead for “Qualcomm Mobile.” That distinction can only help increase the cache of the company’s higher-end products. So good on the company for that.
But Qualcomm, you’ve got a pretty solid branding proposition in the Snapdragon name on the high end. Unless you’re looking to start building your own branded phones (which is I assume gets brought up and shot down in every board meeting), you’ve already got the attention of the sort of people who purchase phones based on processor speed.
So embrace the processor, Qualcomm. Live it, love it. Be the processor you want to see in the world. Hell, make processors great again. How’s that for a platform?