Mobile vs. PC: What's the Future for This Tech Giant?

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When NVIDIA (NAS: NVDA) enjoys a strong market for graphics chips, it's usually at the expense of rival Advanced Micro Devices (NYS: AMD) -- and vice versa. Today, NVIDIA reported a good quarter with a positive long-term outlook, and both stocks are jumping.

Why are the market dynamics different this time? Because NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang sees a multiyear era of strong PC gaming starting right about now.

The leading video-game consoles from Microsoft (NAS: MSFT) , Sony (NYS: SNE) , and Nintendo (OTC: NTDOY.PK) are getting old, see. "PC technology advances on a regular basis instead of once every seven to 10 years," Huang said. "And so you could imagine how PC technology is dramatically better than a game console today, and you're starting to see that now with a new generation of games that are coming out, such as Battlefield 3."

In this market assessment, Huang forgets to mention that Nintendo's next-generation Wii U hits store shelves next year. While the graphics hardware in that update lags behind the latest and greatest on the PC side, it's an upgrade over the last generation's finest pixel pushers. And when you're designing games for one well-defined hardware platform, you can often squeeze more performance out of the hardware than PC generalists who must cater to unending variations and combinations.

Moreover, Sony hasn't announced or leaked any PlayStation update plans yet, but rumor has it that the next Xbox is due by the 2013 holiday season.

Maybe this hardware cycle is shorter than Huang expects.

In the meantime, NVIDIA's non-GAAP earnings jumped 75% year over year to $0.35 per share on 26% higher sales. That groundswell of PC-gamer demand is helping at the moment -- I just wouldn't bet on it as a long-term growth driver.

Instead, NVIDIA's Tegra processors are showing up in increasing numbers of smartphones and even more non-iPad tablet computers. "NVIDIA's strategy is coming into its own, as the world becomes increasingly visual and mobile," Huang enthused, and I think he's right on the money this time.

It's not all smooth sailing. For example, Texas Instruments (NYS: TXN) shut NVIDIA out of the next wave of smartphones from Motorola Mobility (NYS: MMI) because of unfortunate release-timing and pricing strategies.

In the long run, I think we can pretty much forget about NVIDIA, the graphics expert, and say hello to NVIDIA, the mobile mastermind. Learn more about the smartphone and tablet revolutions by grabbing this free, hot-off-the-presses report. Among other things, it will show you three other stocks poised to ride the revolution to rich share returns. Get your copy right now.

At the time this article was published Fool contributorAnders Bylundholds no position in any of the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Texas Instruments and Microsoft.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Nintendo, Microsoft, and NVIDIA, and also recommended creating a bull call spread position in Microsoft and writing puts on NVIDIA. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinion, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Check outAnders' holdings and bio, or follow him onTwitterandGoogle+. We have adisclosure policy.

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