Late last week, some Best Buy stores across the United States received shipments of cards that were branded "NVIDIA" and carried a similar design to one known from 3D Vision retail kits. During the weekend and earlier today, some Best Buy stores started selling nVidia-branded GeForce GTS 450 and GTX 460 boards. We have asked nVidia for clarification and received the following statement from Bryan Del Rizzo, nVidia’s main PR man when it comes to their consumer line of products:
"NVIDIA and Best Buy are working together to offer PC customers the opportunity to experience firsthand the latest in PC technologies right inside Best Buy stores. As part of this broad initiative, NVIDIA is supplying to Best Buy specific GeForce models built and supported by NVIDIA. These products will only be available at Best Buy and will complement GeForce products from our partners. We will provide more details on this later."
As you can read for yourself, the tie-up is limited to Best Buy-only, and while the company representatives did not want to comment why the sudden move, the reason is written on the wall: the demise of Big F*cking Gun, known under its legal name as BFG Technologies Inc. BFG had a deal with Best Buy and sold a ton of cards, when the internal 3-way struggle for ownership started the demise of the company and then things finally collapsed when nVidia refused to support BFG. With BFG Technologies gone, Best Buy started pushing Galaxy, PNY and EVGA, but there was still a hole in the product portfolio, which nVidia is trying to fill all by itself.
According to an unwritten agreement, Best Buy carries different products from different brands, all inside one big [un]happy family, and tries to give good space to companies involved in selling through this retail chain. However, some companies are more happier with this arrangement than others, and when a company goes bust, Best Buy finds themselves in? unwarranted territory.
While from one side nVidia can claim it’s a good move, there were reasons why ATI abandoned its own board strategy, and the very reason why nVidia gained the position in the marked which it holds until the issues with Fermi-based silicon.
When nVidia acquired 3dfx, the company claimed the reason for 3dfx’s demise was the fact that 3dfx killed its ecosystem by abandoning the Add-In-Card space and turning all the board manufacturers against themselves.
What will come of this deal? If 1st party boards from nVidia erode its own ecosystem, the partners will become foes and the company will continue to lose the market share. From another side, if the strategy turns successful, it may force AMD to come with their own branded graphics cards, just like they’re selling boxed processors. After all, we’ve been hearing rumors that AMD’s Fusion APU products will be placed both on shelves where the CPUs and GPUs are positioned, causing a "double positioning" for the company.
Time will tell which move was the correct one.