The short answer to my title is no, NVIDIA’s GTC isn’t about to disappear. NVIDIA is currently one of the technology industry’s darlings, as it has been firing on all cylinders of late, largely because its executive team, led by founder Jen-Hsun Huang, rightly anticipated AI, deep learning and autonomous driving. This allowed the firm to expand outside of PCs and, with a resurgence in gaming, there really isn’t a part of its business that is doing badly. With Intel’s IDF becoming obsolete, the likelihood that other big shows will be discontinued is high and, I expect, most will be gone by 2030, because of technology that NVIDIA itself is helping to develop.
Let’s talk about why NVIDIA’s GTC still makes sense, even though IDF doesn’t.
Changes for Developers
Much of Intel’s business is still tied to PCs and servers and the X86 architecture. But over time, Microsoft and more recently Google with Chrome, have been the primary places where developers go to work on PC platforms, and VMware and Microsoft, due to their virtualization platforms, for servers. Microsoft in particular has largely gone hardware independent with servers. Add to this cloud services like AWS, and suddenly going to an Intel developer event, at least for PCs and servers, just doesn’t make sense.
However, on the graphics side, performance is still tightly tied to hardware and, for PCs, game developers still write relatively closely to the hardware and want to get as much performance out of the class of servers that use GPUs (often super-computers) as possible. This is the difference between a focused use like gaming, deep learning, and AI vs. a general use product. So, with graphics, connection to the vendor remains important and relevant. For now.
Now, both Intel and NVIDIA are going after new market opportunities in cognitive computing, AI and autonomous cars. However, NVIDIA has been at it longer, and given that its technology for the new markets came from its efforts in the old, having an event that allows developers to not only bridge their skills but advance along a path already set makes sense.
Intel, coming later to the segment, has to chase developers harder, which means it needs to go to them until they get to critical mass, and then, likely will be better served with focused events on each segment. This will allow Intel to build the critical mass that NVIDIA already has more quickly, and this reflects a difference between a vendor, NVIDIA, sustaining a successful effort, and another building one. One is about retention (NVIDIA) and the other is about expansion (Intel), showcasing that two very different strategies can work for vendors in very different phases of market development.
VR, AI, and Deep Learning Could End It All
However, I think it is fascinating that both firms are working on a platform that eventually could make both approaches obsolete. You see, events of any kind typically involve travel, coordinating with other events, and the changing availability of attendees and presenters. For instance, someone really screwed up this year and placed big events by Microsoft, Dell/EMC and NVIDIA right on top of each other. This happens way more often than you’d think.
VR and AI potentially could do for events what DVRs and cloud streaming did for TV: Decouple content from time and make the engagements far more personal. Sessions could be viewed when people needed, and had the time, to view them without the need for travel or the problems of conflicts. Content could be dynamically altered for the individual viewing the event, and those who viewed the content could be connected socially for questions, collaboration and feedback.
With a deep learning system, both behind these future efforts and an AI (visual chatbot) in front of it, attendees would not only get a far more personal experience but one that would adapt to their unique skill set and personality type. As a result, events like IDF and GTC, which are constrained by time and location, would evolve into locations, like super forums, that are always open and always filled with the perception of (often computer generated) folks seeking the same things you are.
In the end, events like IDF and GTC should evolve from physical places tied to dates to virtual places tied to your specific needs. So rather than Intel’s Developer Forum, evolution will take it to (insert your name here) Developer forum. The future will be all about you. Yes, in the future we’ll all be just like teenagers are now…
Rob Enderle is President and Principal Analyst of the Enderle Group, a forward-looking emerging technology advisory firm. With over 30 years’ experience in emerging technologies, he has provided regional and global companies with guidance in how to better target customer needs; create new business opportunities; anticipate technology changes; select vendors and products; and present their products in the best possible light. Rob covers the technology industry broadly. Before founding the Enderle Group, Rob was the Senior Research Fellow for Forrester Research and the Giga Information Group, and held senior positions at IBM and ROLM. Follow Rob on Twitter @enderle, on Facebook and on Google+