Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Can NVIDIA's SHIELD Tablet Really Be the Next Big Thing in Gaming?

By Steve Symington - Jul 28, 2014 at 7:00PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

NVIDIA's new SHIELD devices are a first step in a longer-term process.

NVIDIA stock, Google stock

NVIDIA just expanded its SHIELD product lineup with a new tablet and gaming controller, Credit: NVIDIA

"We all own tablets. But we all wish we could do more with them."

So began NVIDIA Corporation's (NVDA 2.39%) initial introduction to its new Android-based SHIELD tablet last week. Titled "Gamers Deserve a Tablet That Can Do More," the post ultimately makes no secret of NVIDIA's ambitions to change mobile gaming for the better.

It's got the specs to do so: The SHIELD tablet notably features an 8-inch full HD display, front-facing speakers, NVIDIA's mobile powerhouse processor in the 192 Kepler-core K1 GPU and a 2.2 GHz ARM Cortex A15 CPU with 2GB RAM -- a big step up from the Tegra 4-powered Note 7, which I recently noted NVIDIA was already pushing hard to demonstrate to gamers that tablets can offer so much more than we think. And it's reasonably priced, too, with the 16GB and 32GB versions retailing for $299 and $399, respectively.

In addition, rather than relying on third-party controllers as it previously had with the Note 7, NVIDIA also simultaneously introduced its own SHIELD wireless controller as an optional $59 accessory -- something crucial for any hardcore gamer to take the tablet seriously. And similar to the SHIELD portable handheld console NVIDIA launched around this time last year -- which NVIDIA still insists it will continue to support and develop from here -- the SHIELD tablet will not only serve as a solid portable Android gaming platform, but also supports low-latency streaming of your favorite titles directly from your gaming PC to the tablet or an HD TV.

Here's NVIDIA's real end-game
That brings me to a curious follow-up blog post from Jeff Fisher, senior VP of NVIDIA's PC business, which aims to explain exactly why they launched the new devices.

NVIDIA stock, Google stock

Android already has more than 1 billion monthly active users, Credit: Author SS, Google I/O

As it stands, Fisher explains, Android gaming today sits pretty much right where PC gaming was around two decades ago: It's an open platform with an enormous user base -- more than one billion 30-day active users, in fact, as of Google's (GOOG 0.45%) (GOOGL 0.52%) I/O Conference last month.

"But," Fisher went on, and like the PC industry back then, "the underlying performance, software tools and resulting content have yet to be delivered."

Now, however, and thanks in no small part to NVIDIA's efforts over the years, the global PC gaming market is on track to exceed $25 billion this year.

So, can lightning strike twice? Actually, I think the shift is already well under way.

After all, as I noted only last month, games accounted for nearly 90% of Google Play's revenue in the first quarter, and Google Play Games growth accelerated to tack on 100 million new users accounts over the previous six months alone. What's more, Google management stated their company paid out four times as much money to developers in 2013 compared to 2012.

But NVIDIA, for its part, wants to specifically kick-start Android as a serious gamers' platform with its SHIELD devices. Over the long run, what better way to do so than by taking the necessary technology and cramming it into a tablet, which effectively sits at the center of the current Android revolution? Going forward, the capabilities of mobile devices -- both from a raw processing and power management standpoint -- will only continue to advance. And with it, so, too, will the quality and capabilities of gaming content and software accessible to the broader Android community.

Now don't get me wrong: This doesn't mean the SHIELD tablet needs to be a smashing success to prove its point. Rather, it simply needs to raise some eyebrows as a solid first step, and spur what NVIDIA clearly views as a multiyear journey.

Personally, from an investors' perspective, that kind of thinking is exactly what I love to see.

Steve Symington owns shares of Nvidia. The Motley Fool recommends Google (A shares), Google (C shares), and Nvidia. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google (A shares) and Google (C shares). Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

Alphabet Inc. Stock Quote
Alphabet Inc.
GOOGL
$120.17 (0.52%) $0.62
NVIDIA Corporation Stock Quote
NVIDIA Corporation
NVDA
$187.73 (2.39%) $4.38
Alphabet Inc. Stock Quote
Alphabet Inc.
GOOG
$120.86 (0.45%) $0.54

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
394%
 
S&P 500 Returns
127%

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 08/19/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.