The grand Patriarch of the PC graphics market, Matrox has been well regarded for a very long time for their high-end, high-quality products. I used to use Number Nine cards when AutoCAD was young, but the industry moved, almost universally, to Matrox MGA cards when they hit the scene. The 2D clarity was beyond incredible, and support for high resolutions with that level of clarity meant that the demanding task of creating and editing complex CAD files was made much easier for those of us who toiled for hours in front of the screen.
One of the things that I always appreciated at Matrox was the quality of their drivers in terms of CAD and desktop environments. In those days, if you had trouble, you could call them up and get expert help in minutes. They consistently worked on their drivers so that they interacted well with AutoCAD’s complex ADI interface, and later, when we made the move from DOS to Windows (a real productivity killer for us old command line script writing geeks), they were right there with us as we forged through the mess that was AutoDesk’s accelerated display architecture.
Matrox gained an excellent reputation through word of mouth, and later through industry publications. Consumers were begging for a broader all-purpose solution from Matrox, and they delivered in spades. Their Millennium and Mystique products handled the business and consumer market at the same time, with the Mystique actually adding basic video capture capabilities to boot. Both products were successful, but the Millennium in particular gained wide-spread praise from all facets of the industry.
Their Rainbow Runner series added TV Tuner capabilities and enhanced video capture features to the product line, and later, after the updated Matrox Millennium was introduced, came an incredible advancement that they are still heralded for. Matrox introduced multi-monitor support in a single card solution. This was a huge, huge boon for business users, particularly the CAD and financial services market. The next step was to move this technology to the consumer side, which they did with the highly revered G400 series. This line of cards is still looked at fondly by anyone who got their hands on one. Not only did they offer their famous “Dual-Head” option so consumers could run multiple monitors, their 3D quality and speed were very competitive with other 3D cards out on the market. The card became so popular in the gaming market that they came out with a higher speed version called the G400 Max. They had a sure-fire winner on their hands, and they found themselves with a few more options than they were used to having, and potentially an exciting new direction.
At The Crossroads
Matrox had found themselves smack in the middle of the gaming market, and the rewards were potentially huge. However, focusing resources towards the volatile consumer gaming market would be a very risky move and require a great deal of capital investment to remain cutting edge. They were faced with a dilemma. They were already cutting edge in the business market and that demanded almost all of their attention. Should they enter a potentially lucrative market, or should they take a step back and look at what got them there in the first place.
Much to their credit, Matrox decided to put their established customer base first and continue to devote maximum resources to the type of products they had long been known for. Yes, giving up on the high-end gaming market may have been an unpopular decision for some, but it was a heralded move by Matrox loyalists and longtime customers.
It takes guts to make a call like that, knowing that you can’t please everybody, but Matrox stood true to their convictions and rediscovered their roots. They clarified their vision with laser precision on the business market, producing affordable, versatile products with their Dual-Head technology and top notch 2D quality and performance. So far their decision seems to have paid off, as evidenced by the massive casualties in the 3D gaming market. As it sits, Matrox is still a well-respected name in the corporate market, and is also fondly thought of in the consumer market thanks to their eTV line of products. An example of how to do things right, perhaps?