One for the bean counters
If you were a motherboard maker just now, what kind of stuff would you release? High-end stuff is what I bet most of you would choose to create. Enthusiast and power-user boards based on the very latest chipsets, packed full of features, with the best components to create ultra-stable, ultra-fast products for everyone to fawn over. I would too.
But the high-end never really made anyone any money. Not huge volume sales anyway. Today's high-end is tomorrow's mid-range and that's why people love to read about the latest and greatest. Not because it's what they're looking to buy now, but it's what they're going to get when they upgrade in 18 months, for a lot less cash. You have power users that need top of the line hardware, sure. You also have enthusiasts for whom computing is a hobby. They like tweaking, getting the most out of their hardware and generally sit just a step behind the real early adopters and people with too much disposable income. But nearly every market analysis suggests that the enthusiast market is small, serving only to drive volume sales of hardware released in the next 12 to 18 months down the line.
So the rest of the market is made up of the cost conscious, cognisant about current hardware trends in most respects, but who don't have the money - or are unwilling to spend it if they do - on $700 processors and $400 graphics cards, at every product refresh point. Famously, Wal-Mart in the States will sell you an entire PC for $400, warts and all.
And then there's a complete sub-market of true budget users. Cost is everything, so the more computing power they can get for their precious money the better. It's this market that's allowed Jetway to differentiate itself from the mountain of generic products we see every day. They asked themselves the question I posed you at the top of the page, but they didn't answer it predictably.
Instead they've done something that appears very savvy at first glance, licensing a software application and creating a somewhat unique range of products with it. Their TWIN-series of products mates hardware, something they've had a lot of experience creating, with clever software. As the name suggests, Jetway's TWIN-series of motherboard products lets two users use the computer system built around the board, at once.
It's certainly nothing unique; concurrent multi-user systems have been around almost since day one in the non-Windows world. But concurrent access to Windows systems is the provision of an expensive Terminal Server, or other similar software, installation. Jetway simplify things a little with the TWIN-series, limiting it to two concurrent users, but that affords them some benefits in the Windows way of doing things.
Let's take a closer look.