The life of concept devices is often rough. We’ve seen it time and time again with companies trying to take a fresh spin on an idea but finding themselves with a product that simply doesn’t sell. We recognize that manufacturers are always taking a risk when they create a unique device but sometimes we just shake our heads and think, “Why didn’t they see that coming?” And with the NVIDIA Shield, we’re beginning to find ourselves in one of those situations.
Let’s rewind a few months. NVIDIA arrives at CES and announces their Project Shield gaming device. Project Shield made waves when it was first announced by including a beastly Tegra 4 processor and the ability to play both Android and PC games. It also brought in a full set of console controls so that customers wouldn’t have to deal with finicky touchscreen controls. The price was soon announced and at $349, it was a bit steep. But still fair for the power that you were getting. Pre-orders were opened and we presumed that some hardcore gamers and NVIDIA fans were pre-ordering.
But as time carried on, the popularity of the Shield began to tumble. People just weren’t really that interested in buying the device and we realized that there weren’t nearly as many people ordering the Shield as we had previously thought. As the wait for a launch date grew longer and longer, the pieces began to fall into place for us to realize that this wasn’t going to bode well for the Shield. And sure enough, NVIDIA announced last week that they were dropping the price of the Shield down to $299. They’d finally seen the inevitable and had made an effort to turn fate around. But at that point, it was too late. The writing was already on the wall for the Shield and more and more people began to see the trouble with it.
The Shield is a niche device, we’ve always known that. But the niche that it was aiming for has been constantly shrinking for a while now. Even if every gamer who wanted an ultra-portable gaming machine had bought a Shield, NVIDIA still wouldn’t have sold many. And with a price tag of $349, it was simply an expense that most couldn’t justify. The price slash down to $299 made it easier to swallow but it still wasn’t worth it for many people. They realized that if they bought the Shield, it would likely collect dust after the first few weeks of using it.
But the Shield has now encountered another problem; a mechanical defect was found in the hardware. After finally announcing the launch date of the device last week, NVIDIA revealed yesterday that the release of the Shield will be delayed until July due to an unspecified mechanical defect. This is bad enough in its own right. The release date was just announced just six days ago, and then 24 hours before the release, it gets pulled and put off until the next month.
So what was this mysterious mechanical defect? It could have been anything. Most likely it was just a malfunctioning hinge or something that was sourced from a third-party manufacturer that hadn’t been properly tested. But it might have been something much more sinister such as a problem with the new Tegra 4 processor. We noted that none of the sites who have posted reviews of the Shield have included benchmarks of the new Tegra 4 chip. There’s even the possibility that it was delayed not because of a mechanical defect, but rather because something in the software wasn’t up to par yet. Perhaps a launch title wasn’t ready in time? NVIDIA said that it was a third-party component that was the problem but there are a whole lot of things that could fit into that category. Unfortunately, NVIDIA has left us mostly in the dark as to what exactly was wrong which leads to all sorts of speculation. Exactly what we’re doing at the moment.
But the very worst facet of the delay was to see how little attention the news received. Going around all of the tech blogs that reported on the delay, only a handful had comments and the ones that did barely had any. This highlighted that very few people had pre-ordered the Shield. How does it show this? If a lot of people had ordered the Shield, they would have been at least slightly disgruntled by this news. Instead, we found comments sections regarding the issue that resembled ghost towns. Either people who ordered the Shield don’t care at all that the device is delayed or people simply didn’t order it. That’s the logical conclusion.
Now that we’re nearing the launch date, it’s become to obvious that the Shield will be a flop. And with the hype that it had going, a pretty big flop at that. So why didn’t NVIDIA see this coming? Perhaps it was because they’ve had such a dedicated PC following that they thought the same would work with a crossover Android device. Unfortunately, it appears that is not the case and that even their large fan base is going to pass on this one. The NVIDIA Shield is a valiant attempt at creating a new category of mobile gaming devices, but unfortunately it doesn’t appear it will achieve that goal.
But now it’s time for you, the reader, to input your own thoughts. Do you agree that the Shield will flop? Or do you think that it stands a chance of doing well? We await your answers with great anticipation.