Comes the news that Nvidia just lost an order for 10 million graphics cards to AMD because it wouldn’t open the source for its driver. At a very conservative estimate, that’s north of $250 million in business Nvidia just threw to a major competitor because it couldn’t get its head out of its rectum. Somebody’s quarterlies are going to suck.
The really interesting aspect of this isn’t the amount of money Nvidia’s idiotic secrecy fetish just cost it, but why it happened – and why it’s likely to happen again, soon and repeatedly, to other hardware companies with equally idiotic secrecy fetishes.
Seems the Chinese are rolling their own Linux-based operating system for educational PCs. China is big – their pilot project is 10 million units. The Chinese offered Nvidia the graphics card business on all of these; Nvidia’s negotiators, being utter morons, tried to charge the Chinese for the cost of porting NVidia’s binary drive blob from x86 to the MIPS processor the school PCs will use.
The Chinese apparently didn’t even bother telling Nvidia to fuck off. They just ended the meeting and handed AMD the business. Feel the burn, Nvidia!
Now look at the bigger picture. China now has an economy roughly the size of the U.S.’s – by some measures larger. And a bigger population than the U.S.’s. And no patience for the bullshit companies like Nvidia spew defending their closed-source policies. This wasn’t the last such blow-off we’re going to see, but the first of many.
The message has been sent. Do you work for a hardware company with a closed-source driver policy? If so, tell your boss that policy is going to lock your company out of the biggest market in the world, starting now. And not just that one market, either; word of this will spread. With the Chinese to break trail, we’re going to see the same no-compromise stance from the rest of Pacific Rim and emerging markets all over the world.
Pass the popcorn. Heads will be rolling at Nvidia shortly – and if the company’s top management hasn’t got enough clue to fire the addled fuckwits who just cost it China and change its source-disclosure policy, short the stock because the company itself won’t have a long future.
And everything I’ve written about how economics makes the triumph of open source inevitable? This is what it looks like when those pressures are no longer from the future. This is what it looks like when they burst into the now.