A Changing of the Guard

A couple of major movements happened this month. Some minuscule and some were big enough to cause massive waves. It started off with NVIDIA’s stock creeping up in value slowly as normal and upon hitting USD 404, its market cap crossed USD 248 billion. The market cap is the total value of all the company’s shares. At USD 248 billion, NVIDIA had officially eclipsed Intel to become the most valuable U.S. chip-maker. Market cap is just one factor, NVIDIA’s revenues of USD 14.6 billion are a fraction of Intel’s USD 73.8 billion and Intel is much more diverse than NVIDIA and has a lot more revenue streams.

Intel 7nm and NVIDIA badges on laptop
One’s more valuable than the other.

However, NVIDIA hasn’t been exactly sitting idle with their GPUs. The company has been the market leader in client graphics and enterprise graphics for quite some time. They even have multiple AI accelerator solutions and even have an autonomous driving platform which used to power the Tesla vehicles and soon will power self-driving cars from Mercedes-Benz. And if rumours are to be believed, NVIDIA has also approached ARM along with some venture partners with an acquisition offer. 

ARM is present everywhere. Their IP powers majority of the SoCs that power smartphones, smart home IoT devices, low-power notebooks, servers, supercomputers and assembly line IoT hardware. With ARM under its wing, NVIDIA could end up being as diverse as Intel. NVIDIA’s achievement, of course, happened before Intel’s Q2 Financial call which sent their stock price plummeting after the announcement of Intel’s 7nm delay. So NVIDIA still gets kudos for becoming the most valuable U.S. chip-maker but another company benefited from Intel’s misfortune. AMD, Intel’s rival in the client and server CPU space, saw their shares become more valuable than Intel’s for the very first time in history. And lastly, in order to make amends for the delay in Intel’s 7nm process, Intel also mentioned that they would look towards outsourcing some of their manufacturing to third-party fabs. Again, never in the history of Intel was this ever deemed viable as the company always believed in using their own fabs to maintain their leadership in the silicon manufacturing space. A lot of these announcements have to do with the same company, but that’s just the hardware side of technology.

ARM v8-A Platform Cortex-A57
ARM – Dominating the Mobile space

Closer to home, we’re seeing another shift. This time, it’s got to do with software. TikTok and several apps suspected to be of Chinese origin have been banned by the Indian Government and more are expected to follow as the Government agencies continue carefully examining other suspected apps. TikTok’s troubles aren’t limited to India but even the U.S. and several other countries have been mulling taking similar measures against the company. TikTok has even been advised to spin off their U.S. business or sell off stock in order to make the ownership of the company seem better in the eyes of the U.S. Government. This has, of course, opened up avenues for Indian apps in the same space to finally enjoy some of the limelight. The folks who had built their profiles are obviously a little miffed with the ban, some of them even made a living off of these apps. But the new apps taking their place present another opportunity for people to grow their profiles without any concern of their private data being allegedly sent off to foreign shores. One thing that you need to do is give these new Indian apps some time to mature and offer features that we took for granted on the older platforms. The older platforms didn’t miraculously offer great UI and UX right out of the box and expecting the same from the Indian apps would be unfair. I’m not saying that absolute garbage design should be forgiven, basic UI and UX standards should always be present and the absence of the same should be treated as sin. Take Instagram for example, their desktop experience to this day remains atrocious. 

All of these events just stand to reinforce the simple truth of our fast-moving technology-driven world. Failure to innovate is akin to helping the competition slingshot ahead of you. And no matter how much you innovate, Murphy’s Law is always applicable.

This opinion piece was published in the August 2020 issue of Digit magazine.