Razor blades remind me of Intel and AMD

Brake liners, razor blades and microprocessors probably don’t seem the likeliest of bed fellows but my mind turned to the cutting edge because I find myself in Marrakech for a chip conference that isn’t happening… it got cancelled and my air ticket was non-refundable. They got the internet here, don’t you know.

Razor blades, like microprocessors and the internet, are not going to go away unless some modern czar imposes the rule that everyone must wear beards. This is not as extraordinary as it might seem. Rulers are capable of imposing the weirdest of taxes because money makes the world go round.

I am in Marrakech because I booked early for a chip conference that then got cancelled. I hate checking in a bag just for the sake of toiletries, so wandering through the souk yesterday I bought a throwaway razor and of course it is a Gillette razor. Why of course? Well because according to a 2010 survey by Mintel – the only relationship it has to Intel is the last five letters – Gillette rules the razor roost. The razor wars ended years ago.

Even in China the two market leaders are Gillette and Schtick – there’s more choice in Russia with Bic, the remarkably named Mostochlegmash, Dorco, Procter and Gamble and Wilkinson Sword vie to cut the beards and moustaches of the hirsute.

Just like razors, the chip wars are more or less over. AMD remains a minority player in the X86 market while plucky little Taiwanese company Via holds the tiniest market share even compared to Sunnyvale. I daresay there are places where AMD is the Mostochlegmash of microprocessors.

How interesting it is to contrast operating system market shares with razor blades. Microsoft is seeing its share chipped away bit by bit, particularly in the mobile sector, with the Android and Apple OS share fencing away at the cutting edge.

Still, it all depends how you cut things up. Just like Microsoft, Intel would dearly love to be the major provider of chips for mobile and smartphones – the trouble is the rest of the world+dog won’t let that happen.

Now here’s a suggestion for both Intel and Microsoft. How about the two giants putting together a joint venture with Gillette to produce an electric razor that doubles as a smartphone so that you have half the things to carry on a plane? That really would be convergence at the cutting edge and would give new meaning to the expression “hair today and gone tomorrow”. Sorry, this is the story of an old soak in the old souk drinking his djinn and tonic. Hey ho.