Consumer Responsibility. What is it, does it exist, and should it mean anything to you. Over the next few paragraphs you will read my arguments.
During the last couple product cycles for Nvidia and AMD I’ve heard it time and time again that, “We need competition back in graphics cards!!!”, to which I usually suggest purchasing an AMD product to help bring back the competition you so desire. This is generally and almost universally met with, “I don’t support charities.”, or “If AMD makes a faster product, I’ll buy it. They should just make a faster product.”. Let me start out by saying that I fully agree with this under normal circumstances. The free market should absolutely bury under performing companies. They either perform or die. This prevents competing companies from resting on their laurels and forces innovation that we all benefit from. This works fine right up until the market has eliminated ALL but two players in a market segment, and that field is either exceptionally difficult or impossible to enter competitively. As consumers of that market, we are partially “responsible” for creating that market situation. We have backed ourselves into a corner so to speak with our purchasing habits. We also assume the responsibility of either protecting that market duopoly or the outcome of supporting a monopoly, especially if you are an enthusiast of that market. “Only buying the best” is fine if you understand the outcome of that buying habit which will end in a monopoly or near monopoly market status and assume part responsibility for creating it.
“AMD should just make a faster product and we will buy it.”. Absolutely they should do the most they can do to achieve competitiveness with their rival Nvidia. Pretending that it’s just that simple is exceptionally disingenuous however. Making High end DGPUs takes time, and much more importantly, R&D funding. If the market continuously provides billions of dollars in revenue to one side of a duopoly, and starves the other side, we can almost guarantee the outcome. Granted there are a few outliers, Ryzen being a prime example, but by and large we can predict the outcomes. Another outcome that we can predict based on studying thousands of years of human behavior is that, once a human, or company for that matter, gains almost complete control of anything they almost always abuse that power. Nvidia increasing the MSRP of their top enthusiast card from $699 to $999; not that we will see any models at that price point, most examples have been 1150 to 1250, is an example of them testing their new near monopoly pricing power. Continuing to purchase under this situation is acknowledging and supporting this behavior. If this doesn’t bother you then by all means open your wallet and support your favorite company.
“I don’t support charities.” That’s perfectly fine but you will either support one or become one. As prices explode out of control due to you not supporting competition at all costs, your wallet will start to feel the effects and you may have to start compromising based on what you can no longer afford. This means paying more, and getting less, or having to skip 1 or more product cycles at a time to make upgrades worthwhile, and for some of you super enthusiasts that will be hard. Another effect of a monopoly or near monopoly with little to no competition is the output of the monopoly in question. Longer product lifecycles, less innovation, and smaller increases in performance per generation. While we may not see this yet with Nvidia, Intel is a perfect example of how a company will continually resell a slightly better product year after year with little to no innovation. It’s easy to see the difference Ryzen and ThreadRipper has affected that market in such a short time. Then there’s the Intel question. Do we truly believe that Intel has what it takes to come out of nowhere with a completely new graphics card architecture and compete with Nvidia at the high end, or even mid-range for that matter? This in my opinion is extremely optimistic even with Raja involved. Perhaps time will tell. The simple fact of the matter though is that you are not exonerated for any responsibility in small part from creating market situations like this. Whether you want to admit it or not, you are, and will always have to accept some small chunk of the responsibility of either preserving competition, or letting it die and accepting the consequences.