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Exclusive interview with Kingston Regional Director Ann Keefe

The world of IT is very competitive. It’s rare for any company, no matter how good, to dominate a market for years – but that’s just what Kingston has done in the memory sector.

In the wake of GamesCom 2012, KitGuru managed to catch up with the company’s Regional Director for UK and Ireland, Ann Keefe.

Kingston is big.

No messing around, it’s seriously huge.

According to industry experts like iSuppli, around 45% of the world’s memory modules are built, shipped, sold and supported by Kingston’s 4,000 employees.

To put that into perspective, AData is in second position with less than 8%. The only other market where the number one player could be that much bigger than its nearest competitor would probably be Tablet PCs. Looks like a lot of people like Kingston.

The person responsible for continuing that trend in the UK and Ireland is Ann Keefe, Regional Director for Kingston. Given that Ann joined Kingston in 1996, we kicked off by asking Ann if she still finds the market exciting.

“We never stop innovating”, said Ann with a smile. “We’re constantly bringing new products to market and that’s what keeps me excited”.

While the majority of Kingston’s global numbers come from business users, servers and the memory you find in consumer devices like cameras and phones – the biggest recent push has been on the performance brand, HyperX. We asked Ann about this.

“At GamesCom 2012, we were part of the huge SK Gaming stand”, she explained. “They have been a top team, competing for the highest honours, for more many years. When they go into battle – and when they win – they’re using Kingston HyperX memory and SSD products. That’s kind of cool”.

“Kingston’s reputation has been built on reliability, probably more than anything else”, she continued. “In a business environment, the need for fast/secure data transfer is obvious, but we then realised that our zero tolerance approach to data errors and optimisation makes our products perfect for pro-gamers”.

SK Gaming legend, Ocelote, seen here smothered in Kingston HyperX loving at DreamHack

The memory companies that have picked up the biggest market share among gamers, overclockers and enthusiasts, all had memory with cool sounding names. Sure, you can put millions into researching the underlying technologies – but when it comes to the ‘point of sale’, we’ve all got a little magpie inside us – attracted to the shiny heat-spreaders and aggressive-sounding names. We asked Ann about her company’s most recent launch.

“Ah, you mean the Kingston HyperX Predator! Well, we’ve left little to the imagination with that name”, said Ann. “These are our new high performance DRAM modules, with the fastest speeds, lowest latencies and highest capacities. HyperX Predator is aimed at extreme enthusiasts and overclockers looking to push their systems to the limit, but with complete confidence that their data is safe”.

“Our new heatspreader gives the HyperX Predator a much more aggressive look, while offering superior heat dissipation”, explained Ann. “But it can also be used in a more serious environment, for example Digital Content Creation (DCC) where the memory is Intel XMP certified and fully tested and validated with a complete set of the world’s most popular high end mainboards”

She continued, “Our customers can easily overclock their systems by simply selecting a profile in their BIOS, with no need for manual adjustment”.

Kingston HyperX Predator is, obviously, an evolutionary stage forward - but we're left wondering if the bloke on the right is really the same as the one on the left (Rex), but in disguise. You know. His weekend outfit.

When we visited the huge SK Gaming stand in Hall 10 at GamesCom 2012, the place was jammed. Not only did regular gamers want to meet with their heroes, they also wanted to get hands on with some of the latest technology and – no surprise – fill up on goodie bags.

While the very high end of the PC market is hardly shrinking at all, the mass market has been moving Apple’s way for some time. We asked Ann what Kingston can offer customers in that market.

“If you boot a MacBook Pro, then it normally takes around 40 seconds”, she explained. “But if you upgrade the same laptop with a Kingston HyperX SSD, then you can do a cold boot in as little as 12 seconds”. Impressive stuff.

“That’s just the boot time”, she continued. “Everything on the machine just feel quicker, more liberated. It’s a whole new experience”.

We have to say that before 2012’s price war on SSD, the idea that an SSD would be your only drive in a laptop made you think twice. However, a quick check on the web shows that major retailers have the Kingston 120GB HyperX 3k drives on offer around the £79 mark – which makes the prospect of a 100% SSD based laptops all the more attractive.

Remember when gamers turned up for events in tents? The Kingston HyperX backed SK-Gaming team seen here (left) relaxing in their GamesCom palace. Ann Keefe (right) has been instrumental in driving her company's brands into the gaming, enthusiast and overclocking markets.

KitGuru says: It was nice of Ann to spend time with us and we really appreciate her insight into the monolithic memory masters. While, globally, Kingston is everywhere – the brand itself hasn’t always been that visible. What Kingston’s marketing gurus have done with the HyperX, 3K and now Predator brands is very smart. It allows them to create premium products for every market – which is where the sensible margins live.

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