Yesterday, in a blog post, Nvidia NVDA +0.47% announced they were delaying shipments of SHIELD until next month. Nvidia cited 3rd party mechanical issues as the culprit. Having extensively used SHIELD for the past week, it is a very mechanically complex unit, very much akin to a combination between a smartphone and the highest quality game controller, so this doesn’t surprise me. SHIELD has 13 buttons, three 360″ swivels, and a display hinge that needs to be perfectly aligned for gameplay. You see, gamers expect this quality and need that quality to play games well.
I don’t actually see this delay as a black mark or any reason to be concerned. I see this as a great sign that Nvidia “gets” the consumer market. This may sound crazy, but hear me out.
In consumer marketing, and especially in electronics, you only get one chance to make a first impression. The product or service must be perfect. It doesn’t matter if you fix it down the line; your product and service brand will be tarnished, doomed, or it will cost you a lot of money or resources. Let me give you a few examples of products that weren’t perfect and their impact:
- Apple AAPL -0.77% antenna-gate: Apple knew the issues before they shipped, shipped it anyways and paid a small price for it. Their PR kicked into high gear,Steve Jobs took the stage, and Apple gave out free bumpers. Crisis averted.
- Apple Maps: Apple knew Maps had issues but shipped it anyways. Their brand is tarnished to this day.
- XBOX 360 RROD: Consumers were getting the dreaded “red ring of death” on the XBOX 360 due to overheating. It costed Microsoft MSFT +0.19% billions, but Microsoft got out of it relatively unscathed because they took exchanges with almost no questions asked and that the PS3 was the only other choice in high end consoles.
- HP TouchPad: It shipped with a buggy operating system software and a lack of apps. It lasted less than 60 days before the entire division was eliminated.
Now, none of the above issues compares with what Nvidia is talking about here, but if Nvidia let this one go, it could have had a profound effect on how consumers, specifically gamers, perceived SHIELD and Nvidia.
I applaud Nvidia for pushing this out a month and hope they don’t ship until their hardware, software and services are absolutely perfect. You only get one chance to impress a consumer.
Disclosure: My firm, Moor Insights & Strategy, provides research, analysis, advising, and consulting to many high-tech companies, including Nvidia who are cited in this article and many, many others. No employees at the firm hold any equity positions with any companies cited in this column.