Nvidia CEO: A 'great tablet is better than a cheap PC'

Nvidia CEO: A 'great tablet is better than a cheap PC'

Summary: As the previously lucrative PC market continues to crumble, Nvidia is looking to embrace mobile computing, and it is talking up tablets as replacements for cheap PCs. But given Apple's dominance with the iPad, nothing is certain.


While all the available data seems to point to the fact that the PC industry has stalled, Nvidia is betting that interest in tablets will keep the dollars flowing in.

Nvidia, previously heavily reliant on graphics processor unit (GPU) sales, has over the past few years been positioning itself as major player in the smartphone and tablet market with its ARM-based Tegra system-on-a-chip (SoC) platform.

A "great tablet is better than a cheap PC," Nvidia chief executive Jen-Hsun Huang told analysts during a conference call.

Huang also spent time during the conference call building up Microsoft's Surface RT tablets, which are powered by the company's Tegra 3 processors. Speaking to sister site CNET, he said: "Windows RT is a monumental event for the PC industry" and that, "once you touch it, feel it, enjoy it, you realize in just a few clicks that this is going to be the way PCs get built."

Maybe. Maybe not.

While there remains a significant hype surrounding tablets, as yet there is no proven market for the devices beyond Apple's iPad. Tablets have indeed taken a significant bite out of PC sales, but these 'tablets' have only featured the Apple logo on the back. Microsoft, along with its hardware partners, are putting a lot of stock into tablets, but unless the hyperbole translates into sales -- and we're talking significant sales over the next few years -- then the only winner from the consumer -- and increasingly, enterprise -- love affair with tablets will be Apple.

Companies like Microsoft, Intel, AMD, and Nvidia are facing a tough time. Their mainstay revenue stream -- the PC upgrade cycle -- while far from dead, is definitely drying up, and they are looking to position themselves as players in the mobile industry. These companies are trying to embrace tablets as a reaction to the crumbling PC industry, unlike Apple, which came into it with a fresh approach, made that work, and then went on to define much of what consumers expect from a tablet.

That said, Nvidia is pretty well placed to leverage mobile because the company has invested heavily in 4G LTE modem technology as well as processors, adding another string to its bow. Tegra 4 processors, which should make an appearance early 2013, are expected to include integrated 4G LTE support.

The problem here is that Apple has managed to dominate this market with the iPad and iPhone, leaving everyone else to play catch-up.

Image Gallery: Microsoft Surface tablet

Image source: Nvidia.

Topics: Hardware, Mobility, Processors, Smartphones, Tablets

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  • Out of touch with reality?

    If I am not totally mistaken, Apple's share of the tablet market is now around 50% and dropping.

    Apple is no longer the dominant force in smart phones, selling only around one quarter or so of the world's smart phones.

    Yeah yeah, I know about the profit argument, but Apple is already being forced to reduce margins, with more likely to come.

    Even being the "Rolex" of portable computing is not going to sustain Apple as a significant player. The volumes simply will not be there.

    This is just basic economics at work.
    • You are wrong I believe

      Not sure but a lot of the stats don't support the 50% figure. Although it probably will happen.

      It is natural for Apple to end up with 33% of the market. Anything above that is doing well.

      If a market requires more than 20% market share to be worth bothering it's a bad thing to be in.

      "This is just basic economics at work." - nope it's spin
      • Re: a lot of the stats don't support the 50% figure.

        All the stats we've seen quoted do.
    • Author has preferences that skew his analysis.

      He doesn't care for Android. Read his monthly "Fragmentation is killing Android" bits for a good laugh. I guess he's old and resistant to change. Can't get his head around why 5x as many people preferred Android last quarter to iOS.

      He's venerable and entitled to his opinion. If he wants to ignore that Apple's market share of tablets is dropping like a stone and giving it all to Android tablets just like what happened in phones, that is his prerogative. Maybe Andy Rubin backed over his puppy or something and he's got a score to settle. Here he covers iPad and, strangely a nobody - WinRT - without mentioning Android AT ALL even though it's nearly half of the tablet market. If I didn't know Apple and Microsoft were colluding to defeat Android it would be inexplicable, but it's not.

      BTW, last quarter Apple was down to one sixth, not one quarter, of global phone sales.

      And to the article: the development platform for WinRT was the ASUS Tegra 3 based Transformer Prime. And that is what the Surface is, basically. That is what they had to build and test on - the finest Android tablet of its day. But its day is in the past, and the next generation - the Transformer Infinity took the hardware to the next level while they were still doing their test/dev. So they are an entire generation behind at least, and engineered their product with static screen sizes when they should have known better. Now ASUS has the Nexus 10 with even higher resolution. Android was designed with flexible layouts and scalable fonts to deal with evolutions of screen sizes when WinRT and even iOS were not. That's a lot of extra effort, but now it pays off. ARM product vendors and especially peripheral equipment vendors target Android because it has a Linux kernel, and they can test their driver in a simulator before the silicon is even processed, and again against the real thing, without telling anybody about their development efforts because the Linux kernel Android runs on is open source. If they need it to work differently to support the driver they can just submit changes to it on the fly.
  • Wow...

    Can't think of anything to say other than NOPE.
  • Nvidia CEO: A 'great tablet is better than a cheap PC'

    Can't agree with that statement. Tablets are limited, a cheap PC will give you a whole lot more options.
    Loverock Davidson-
    • Is there a broken record here somewhere?

      This is indeed getting tiresome.

      A cheap PC will also get you 6 lbs to carry and a 2 hour battery like. And perhaps a full function PC is NOT NEEDED.

      Talk about thick skulled.
      • Agreed

        Which is what makes the Surface RT so much better than your PC that you like to use in bed.
      • I don't know about you

        But I don't carry my PC anywhere and the only battery it has is the CMOS battery. Aside from that I get great life out of it since its always plugged in. Don't have to worry about 2 hours, 8 hours, or even 10 hours. It can always be on!

        You were saying something about being thick skulled?
        Loverock Davidson-
        • ROFL

          You are so desperate to prove PCs best aren't you.

          Or do you never leave your desk?

          A PC may give you more options than what?

          I don't think I am going out I am taking a device that has the highest option count.

          I do think - I am going out which device or devices will provide what I am going to need when oout whilst being easily portable.

          To that end I usually take a phone and get what I need whilst out and just slide it into a pocket and it doesn't weigh me down, in fact becomes not boticeable till I need it.

          If I need a larger screen I take a tablet.

          I would rarely if ever get benefit from a laptop and no longer want one.

          I might change my mind if I start coding whilst out - then yes I'd be better with a laptop. Or if I was doing some complex video editing I might want a laptop, but basic (well not that basic) HD video editing I can do on my phone or tablet.

          Meanwhile I have a desktop machine for when I am not mobile cause I do code and I do quite complex video editing at greater than HD resolution. Also a 21" screen is nicer than a tablet.

          I have checked out the Surface tablet - and it seems a quite good Windows 8 device.

          I have no need of a windows 8 tablet. And to do what I do I wouldn't use windows 8 so won't buy one. If you want Win 8 on a portable device the Surface may be for you.

          If you want to do what most people do with their laptop, then most likely you need an iPad.
      • Not true

        I get more than two hours charge but then for longer trips I usually have power plug.
        Second try writing a short story, run a spread sheet , or simple video editing with a tablet. then tell me an expensive overpriced table will beat a compatible pc laptop.
        If you cannot lug six pound around, then perhaps you need to spend more time at the gym.
        • Citrix

          Have you not heard of it?
        • Well, actually I do use a Tablet all the time...

          In answer to your questions...

          1) I have written a full size novel of 150,000 words on my iPad 2. In addition I have also written masses of poetry and short stories on the tablet format. I happen to use Pages on the iPad and this suits me just fine. Other apps suit others, but that's my poison.

          2) next I edited my invoices for photography, using the Numbers spreadhseet app, again on my iPad.

          3) Editing video is not really a problem either, as this can be achieved with iMovie. Surprise surprise...it's all possible. The days of dedicated tablets for one purpose are long since dead.

          So yes, a nice tablet will perform equally well with the right apps. You know, using SOFTWARE, the oil that makes all this electronic jiggery pokery do stuff.

          All of these options can easily be replicated on Android tablets and Windows RT tablets. If you wish to be short sighted about things, then fine by me and as they say, don't let the facts get in the way of your posts...
      • Completely offtopic


        Is D.T. initials for Dejah Thoris?
    • Nvidia CEO: A 'great tablet is better than a cheap PC'

      I agree...and PC refers more to desktops than laptops, but either way, you spend your $800 on a Surface Pro or iPad 3, and I'll buy an $800 laptop and an $800 desktop. Then we can compare capabilities. A tablet's ONLY advantages are portability and battery life.
      Iman Oldgeek
      • "A tablet's ONLY advantages are portability and battery life."

        Since as humans we'd rather our electronics serve us than we serve them, it turns out that portability and battery life are pretty huge issues. Not having to think about where to plug in is a pretty big deal. A form factor that's better for doing our bit from a couch rather than a cubicle, likewise.
  • AAPL down 20% in last 2 months

    Things are not looking that rosy for Apple.

    "These companies are trying to embrace tablets as a reaction to the crumbling PC industry"

    Too bad the facts don't support you. MS embraced tablets years ago. Bill Gates was the one that gave Steve Jobs the idea for the iPad. Steve Jobs was only partially able to implement Bill Gates' vision. The Surface RT, Xbox, and Windows 8 is a much closer version of where technology ecosystems are going to go in the future.

    Without MS and their openness with their research projects, Apple would have no one to steal their ideas from. Everyone who likes their iPad and iPhone has MS to thank for it.
    • Steal from MS?

      You are aware that I used Excel and Word before they were on Windows? Cause they were Mac software first?

      You are an ignorant fool or a liar.

      MS built stupid tablets - and Surface is still a stupid tablet - it's a nice Win 8 device, but as a tablet it misses the point entirely.

      No - Apple didn't steal from MS - I am aware of Apple's tablet thinking way before MS brought out a tablet and it is documented if you bother to look.

      Bill Gates' vision - no - combination of existing visions of others that Bill Gates takes credit for.

      Oh and now ecosystems are not a dirty word LOL

      I have nothing to thank MS for - I lived through this technology development and stayed informed - and you sir are just plain wrong!
      • Steal from MS? No actually true but MS is there.

        You actually should check your facts before you call someone ignorant or a liar. Word was first a MS-Dos program and Xenix in 1983 then ported to Mac in 1985. The first version of Excel was released on the Mac in the same year. However, what's missing in your rhetoric, these programs were released by none other than Microsoft. Oh, terrible isn't it?

        And for tablets, lets see...Apple had the Newton. It came out in 1993 as a PDA but was originally though of as a tablet. Didn't go very far but the idea was there. MS came out with the Tablet PC in 2002 (originally announced in 2000 at Comdex) which also didn't go over very well but it was a lot closer to the current tablets than the Newton. I'm pretty sure that Apple doesn't work in a vacuum so likely they took notice of other work and used some of it when they did the iPad. Apple's best work is to take other people's ideas that don't work well and make them work. So kudos to Apple but don't be so blind as to think they came up with it all on their own.

        You may have lived through the development of technology but I don't think you were actually paying attention through it all.

        If you are an Apple fan then you do have something to thank Microsoft for. If it wasn't for them propping up Apple in 1997 then you likely wouldn't have all the neat toys to play with now.

        Everybody learns from other companies and in doing so improves their own products. Don't be so blinded by ignorance that you don't think that Apple is the best at doing just that.

        Have a great day!
    • Re: MS embraced tablets years ago.

      But their customers didn't.