Analyzing the Week: September 26th

iPhones, Maxwell, and Intel in mobile…

This last week we saw a number of interesting product launches, announcements, and events including a little iPhone bending problem more reviews of Nvidia’s GTX 970 and Intel’s 1.5 Billion dollar investment into a Chinese wireless modem company. Here’s our take on this week’s big news.

Let’s start with Apple our favorite designer of fruit themed products and their iPhone 6 Plus bending problems. According to some users their brand new phones are bending in their pockets, particularly when they sit down. America’s obesity epidemic aside, I’d be pretty miffed if my $749 phone bent because I sat down with it in my back pocket. It’s a phone, not a paper crane, right? Continuing on this tangent Charlie wrote a piece using #bendgate as the latest and most prominent example of why consumer fashion is making connected devices more expensive and less usable than ever before. I’d recommend it as a cathartic mediation on the current direction of consumer technology.

Speaking of new and interesting products we’re seeing a lot more reviews on Nvidia’s GTX 970 this week. We have entries from Anandtech, Guru3D, and Gamespot and they all bring home the same message. The GTX 970 offers R9 290X peformamce for $170 less. This is great for consumers who can now get the performance of a R9 295X2 for a whole $630 rather than the full $999.

But in the grander scheme of things it means that Nvidia’s just shot a giant torpedo into AMD’s pricing stack with the GTX 970. Prices will have to come down on the R9 290X, R9 290, R9 280X, R9 285, and whatever R9 280 stock is still out there. Nvidia has compressed all but one SKU in AMD’s product stack to a spot at or somewhere below $330. Perhaps the only respite that AMD is seeing here is that the initial $330 versions of the GTX 970 have sold out and only the ~$350 aftermarket versions are still available. In any case AMD has some hard choices to make while they wait for Fiji to arrive. I weep for what their Q4 ASP graphics ASPs are going to look like.

On that note it’s important to remember that not all of Nvidia’s GM204 based products have launched yet, and that there’s atleast one Ti in the pipe.

Next up we have Intel’s announcement of their investment into a pair of state-owned Chinese companies Spreadtrum and RDA which together design low-end LTE modems and SoCs. Viewed in context as the next move in the same strategy that began with moves like the Rockchip deal and the contra revenue scheme Intel it’s looking to not only move aggressively move into the low-end phone and tablet markets with its SoFIA, Atom, and wireless products, but also to prepare itself for the future by vertically integrating the different pieces of the mobile chip market on an as-needed basis.

For Intel this is about being in control of the market and in control of its future. It wants products now and it wants to make sure that the products it needs to conquer more of the market are in the pipeline and developing on the schedule that it sets. As evidence of this methodology we’ve seen the Rockchip and Fossil deals enable Intel to deliver products and along with the ASML, and now with this Spreadtrum and RDA deal, invest in the future. Intel wants to own the mobile market and they’re working to achieve that goal in a lot of different ways.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this column and if you have anything you think is worth covering here drop me a line and we’ll look into it. Better yet tell me why I’m wrong. And if nothing else enjoy reading all the links.S|A

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Thomas Ryan is a freelance technology writer and photographer from Seattle, living in Austin. You can also find his work on SemiAccurate and PCWorld. He has a BA in Geography from the University of Washington with a minor in Urban Design and Planning and specializes in geospatial data science. If you have a hardware performance question or an interesting data set Thomas has you covered.