Many consoles turn a profit on their ecosystem, at least at first. A perfect example is the original Xbox: it was sold at a loss, while Microsoft raked in money from games and content. They earned money from published games and everything on Xbox Live, so it ended up a good business strategy for them. But NVIDIA is not a content provider, it’s a hardware company that builds Project SHIELD with software provided by Google. With it running Android, every app people buy on this device will benefit Google, not NVIDIA. So in an official statement, NVIDIA stated that they will not be selling the Shield at a loss.
NVIDIA writes on their blog:
We’ll make our money by selling the device to gamers. This time-honored approach isn’t one we’re taking with Project SHIELD… …our goal with it is to design and sell a truly great piece of hardware, one that fits comfortably in your hand, delights your eyes and blows out your ears.
So you can expect this device to be quite pricey, and you should know that it’s completely fair. Not all companies have the luxury of making money off content, and NVIDIA is doing the right thing. While skipping out on money they could have made with proprietary software, they are opening up possibilities for us customers by giving us open software with an established app market. Thanks, NVIDIA!