Case Study: Transmeta’s Crusoe

Start-up Takes on the Chip Market Industry Gorilla

In Japan, outside of the IT trade industry, Transmeta was virtually an unknown start-up foreign company. Carrying out an aggressive communications campaign with limited local resources–compared to its competitors seemed like an overwhelming challenge. There was no established Transmeta Japan subsidiary, no local marketing resources, and only one Transmeta employee acting as Japan country representative. In order to succeed, we needed full cooperation from the Transmeta country representative and support from the US headquarters. Secondly, the challenge of differentiating Transmeta’s Crusoe chip in the high tech industry which has long been dominated by Intel’s megahertz (MHz) based marketing. Unworking billions of dollars worth of Intel marketing is no easy task, but Transmeta met the challenge by communicating to the consumers that it is not MHz but productivity that matters.

Lifting up the Hood of PC Laptops  and Showing more than Megahertz

The solution was to create a “ Japan First” one-year communication program consisting of two tiers; ongoing public relations activities and marketing activities, that would establish Transmeta as a leader in “mobile computing” in Japan. Since all of Transmeta’s initial customers were Japanese companies and Transmeta based notebooks were only sold in Japan at the time, the “ Japan First” strategy was natural. A successful Japan focused communications program would build awareness, education and validation of the Crusoe chip in Japan, strengthen relationships with Japanese customers and eventually help drive the launch of Crusoe based products out of Japan into the US and other markets In Japan, all the media is centralized in Tokyo, the centralization of the media in Tokyo provides an excellent platform to build an effective communications program. In addition, most all of the Japanese electronics makers’ headquarters are located in Tokyo, which allowed Transmeta to efficiently carry out joint marketing activities with it’s customers. While semiconductor competitors (Intel and AMD) were traditionally marketing megahertz (the one aspect of speed) for years, we positioned Crusoe chip technology superior over competitors on different terms, Crusoe’s terms- mobile solution based benefits: •Lighter: Small and lightweight for business travelers, space conscious Japanese consumers, and a perfect fit for the lifestyle of the large Japanese commuter population, who appreciate thin, light easy to carry laptops. •Longer: Transmeta’s technology keeps the battery running all day. •Cooler: Transmeta’s Crusoe chip runs cooler than other chips, no noisy fan keeping your laptop cool. Focusing on the consumer benefits that Crusoe technology creates, seeding messages such as “ Lighter, Longer, Cooler”, Crusoe Anywhere, Crusoe mobile lifestyle” and “ longer battery life”.

Japanese Customer Wins, Sustained Media Coverage and Japan Market Validation

As a result of the one year campaign the following objectives were achieved:  Objective #1: Build brand awareness and demand for Transmeta and the Crusoe chip, inciting customer partnerships. Following Transmeta announcement of Toshiba and Sharp customer partnerships in Japan, every major Japanese notebook maker   introduced at least one Crusoe-based products and four of those customers brought (notebooks) to the U.S. market. Seiko Epson Corporation and Transmeta also agreed to cooperate in the future in the development of semiconductor technology related to Crusoe microprocessors. The Crusoe Seminar 2001 proved successful with over 350 IT managers and customers in attendance. Transmeta Director, Notebook Marketing, Michael DeNeffe summed up J-Spin’s effort as “Their professionalism, hard work and dedication were the reasons for the success of the conference and a major element in Crusoe‘s success in Japan.” The Crusoe based Fujitsu FMV-Biblo Loox T notebook won the Best of Show award at TECHXNY in New York, though the product was still only being sold in Japan at that time. Based on a marketing research survey gauging the awareness of the Crusoe chip in Japan, out of 991 respondents- 87% answered they heard of Transmeta’s Crusoe chip. Objective #2: Maintain media interest and build momentum for Transmeta in Japan through its customer wins. Media interest was sustained through strategically placed feature stories, planned interviews around customer announcements, and securing customer participation in Transmeta marketing activities. Key messages were successfully communicated through interviews held for Transmeta spokespersons, achieving an 88% coverage ratio out of 60 interviews conducted.  Objective #3: Disseminate Transmeta’s “convenient mobile computing” positioning-lighter, cooler, longer to Transmeta’s top tier Japanese media in the consumer and business press.  Our coverage analysis showed that Transmeta’s key messages of lighter, cooler and longer was carried by the key national dailies (9 times), business dailies (5 times), major consumer magazines (8 times), top IT consumer magazines (10 times), online, newswires and TV. Transmeta was ranked sixth in Asia BizTech’s most read news stories list for 2001.

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