SciTech

September consumer tech news

September has been a colorful month in the tech industry, with exciting product launches from multiple companies, along with some questionable product sales.

First off, the launches. The Apple tradition of September events is still on, with a fully-virtual event on September 15. Apple announced the Apple Watch Series 6 during the event, which includes features that help users improve their health and fitness. Apple also announced a cheaper watch, called the Apple Watch SE, which aims to expand the market for smartwatches. Through the launch of this cheaper Apple Watch, Apple hopes to continue the success of their iPhone SE, which launched earlier in 2020. New iPads were also launched, with the new iPad Air looking more like an iPad Pro and a refreshed iPad which features new processors. Notably, new iPhones are absent from this event, which misses the Apple tradition of launching new smartphones in September. 2020 is still not it.

Another exciting launch came from NVIDIA, following their purchase of ARM late last month. NVIDIA launched the RTX 30 series graphics cards on September 1. With an underwhelming RTX 20 series which was their last major graphics card launch, NVIDIA hopes their RTX 30 series can capture an even larger share of the consumer GPU market. The RTX 30 series delivered on that promise, with some 40-50% performance increase between the RTX 3080 compared to the RTX 2080, as well as a new “BFGPU” called the RTX 3090, which is something of its own class, promising gameplay at 8K resolution which is something that nothing before it could achieve. The -90 name in NVIDIA’s GPU lineup has not been used since the GTX 690, which was launched in 2012.

With that big of an increase in performance, PC gamers have prepared their cash, and they are ready to get the new graphics cards. However, the launch was anything but peaceful. When the RTX 3080 went on sale on September 17, stock from all retailers evaporated in a very short time. What made the situation worse was that excessive use of bots from scalpers led to even less stock available for gamers who did not wish to resell and just wanted to play.

PC gamers began trolling these scalpers on eBay, who listed graphics cards with ridiculously high prices. The RTX 3080, which has an MSRP of $799, has been “sold” on eBay for ridiculous 5-digit prices, but there’s a catch: eBay bidders don’t have to pay the final price, which means that these cards are likely unpaid and unsold in the end, meaning scalpers cannot get their money back from these cards.

The launch for the RTX 3090, which was on September 24, was no less disastrous than the RTX 3080 launch. NVIDIA is trying to prevent their RTX 3070 launch to go awry like 3080 and 3090, so they pushed the launch date of the 3070 by 2 weeks, from October 15 to October 29, to make more stock available on launch day.

Disastrous product launches don’t stop there, however. The PlayStation 5 launch was scheduled on September 17, but some retailers got the message wrong and launched pre-orders on September 16. Several websites that are set to carry the PS5 have had their websites crash or load everything painfully slow. Some customers who placed pre-orders may not even get their consoles on time, as demand outstripped supply. So, in short, it was a bad time.

Disastrous launches combined with great products made September a very interesting month for tech enthusiasts, indeed.