Sitting down with Heather Skinner

Today Legit Reviews sits down with Heather Skinner, Public Relations Manager for Kingston Technology as to the company's upcoming plans for 2005. Kingston is the largest memory company in the world, so it is always good to keep in touch with what their plans are.

Legit Reviews: Thank you for giving Legit Reviews an insight into Kingston. What is your position at Kingston, and how long have you been with the company?

Heather Skinner: I am the Corporate Public and Community Relations Manager for Kingston Technology as well as for its sister companies. Since I?ve been with Kingston for over 13 years, I?m amazed at how we?ve grown as a company.

LR: Does Kingston have a Mission Statement, and if so what is it?

HS: A few years ago we devised an informal mission statement of our values, summing it up as: ?The Kingston spirit reflects an individual commitment, based on teamwork and loyalty, to reach a standard of exceptional quality, reliability and service in providing system enhancements to our customers worldwide. (Our core is built on Respect: for one another in our culturally diverse environment; Loyalty: for our long-term partnerships; Integrity & Fairness: in all aspects of business; Flexibility & Adaptability: in responding to our customers' needs; Investing in Our Employees: to continuously improve our most valuable resource; and by Having fun: working in the company of friends.?

LR: Kingston sales have topped $2-billion, and a purported 20% total market share. Kingston has also been described as the largest independent memory manufacturer. Compared to other memory maker's where does Kingston stand in sales volume and production?

HS: We expect to exceed $2.4 billion in worldwide sales revenue for 2004?our greatest year ever, and the first time we?ve hit the $2 billion mark. I believe it?s fair to say we are the largest ?independent? manufacturer of memory in the industry but I don?t have an exact breakdown of how we compare to other companies since so much of this data is not available or just pure speculation.

LR: Where do you see the digital world at this point in it's evolution, particularly Personal Computer's?

HS: I think the digital world right now is very exciting. We?ve been closely monitoring what this means to the business customer as well and home consumer. Over the past few years we have greatly expanded our focus on digital media to include a variety of digital storage products, supporting users from enthusiast to professional. We currently offer a terrific line of digital products ranging from CompactFlash and Secure Digital cards to portable USB drives and of late, the new miniSD and RS-MMC cards that offer expanded capabilities to cellular phones and certain digital devices.

LR: Where do you see Kingston in the evolution of the PC, and in Digital Storage in general?

HS: We launch products to support a market?but only when it makes sense. This means that the memory and digital media that Kingston produces expands and enhances the capabilities of digital cameras, PDAs, MP3 players, cellular phones and more; but we aim our launches at the point where it?s appropriate for corporate and consumer customers to buy. Even though we can often produce something that?s technologically more advanced, if there?s no market for it, why do it?

HyperX and High Latencies

Flash Memory In Bulk

Quality Control via Hand Testing

LR: In so far as DDR and DDR2 are concerned where do you believe these standards are heading?

HS: We expect DDR to be around for a few more years and definitely see the promise already of DDR2. As system, motherboard and various partners begin to embrace the technology, you can be assured we?re on board and ready to deliver.

LR: Does Kingston plan to extend it's Hyper-X line, and if so in what capacity?

HS: Absolutely, this is a hot area for us. Kingston will continue to offer products for the gaming and enthusiast market. We?re very excited about how the gaming area of our business is unfolding.

LR: Many people have been concerned about the latencies of DDR2, however; it seems their becoming much better. Will Kingston continue to tighten the latencies in its DDR2 lines, and how low can they get?

HS: Quality and stability is key to everything we produce. Kingston will continue to offer the best possible memory to the market and whenever we can tighten the latencies in any of our modules, we will do so. By the same token, if we can?t achieve those standards we will not release a product. Remember, we?re subject to material shortages like everybody else and DRAM availability always plays a pivotal role.

LR: Will Kingston continue to build and sell larger 1GB sticks, packaging these as 2GB kit pairs in the Hyper-X line?

HS: Kingston will continue to build and sell larger 1 GB memory modules?sold as individual modules or as dual-channel kits. Our customers often purchase modules in pairs due to their motherboard specifications, so we offer these kits as well. Not all systems are able to support anything larger.

LR: With the demise of the infamous Winbond BH-5 IC, there seems to be more focus on PCBs themselves. Since Kingston announced their release of HyperX PC4300 running at 533MHz with just 2.7V was this memory based on Samsung TCCD IC? And how much work went into tweaking the PCB to reach these speeds?

HS: Per Kingston policy we do not disclose information regarding the ICs used on our HyperX products. As long as they meet our high quality spec. we are able to use multiple vendors, not necessarily one.

Fab & Future

Flash Memory In Bulk

Quality Control via Hand Testing

LR: Many people are confused, as they believe memory maker's do just that "make" the IC's they put into their product. Where does Kingston stand in this respect? Do you outsource, and if so to whom?

HS: Kingston is not a DRAM Fab?that?s simply not plausible or within our business model?so we don?t make the IC?s and PCB?s that we use but we design everything that we manufacture. We work with a variety of suppliers too large to mention.

LR: Does Kingston have any plans to actually build their own Fab', to "own" the process from wafer to heatspreader? It's been rumored Kingston has opened, or is opening a new production facility in Asia, what exactly will occur at this location, and how will it effect production?

HS: Good question. Having said that Kingston is not a Fab, we do offer wafer packaging and testing within our core capabilities. We just don?t produce the raw wafer, but from that point, we do pretty much everything else. We have great plans for our new manufacturing plant in China but I cannot tell you of the exact breakdown just yet?stay tuned on this one.

LR: Let?s get into design particulars. When it comes to specific CPU makers such as Intel and AMD, does Kingston design its memory specifically with those technologies in mind?

HS: Kingston works closely with both companies in establishing future memory technologies. When new processors and chipsets are preparing for release, we are ready to support them. We enjoy excellent relationships with both Intel and AMD.

LR: For incentives in 2005, will you continue to offer rebates, and giveaways such as the bundle rebate with MSI?

HS: Yes, Kingston will continue to offer rebates and develop new bundling opportunities with our motherboard partners.

LR: Can you tell us about Kingston's participation in LAN, particularly TEAM-NoA and other Gaming venues for 2005?

HS: From time to time, Kingston sponsors various teams for LAN events. We see it as a fun part of the ?warrior spirit? within the gaming community. This helps build goodwill within the global gaming culture and lets them know as a brand, we support them. Our support of Team-NoA is a fun example of this.

LR: For the upcoming year are there any products in particular Kingston plans to release?

HS: As much as I might like to share this, given the competitive nature of the memory industry, I?ll ask you to stay tuned on this one. .

LR: What does the future hold for Kingston, where does the company see itself in the near future?

HS: Hmm, we?ve been around since 1987 and the memory industry has behaved like an exhilarating rollercoaster ride: explosive growth interjected with sharp downturns. I have a lot of great expectation for what Kingston can do as a company and hope my next 13 years here will prove to be an even more successful adventure!

Thank you. Keith Suppe (Legit Reviews)