I responded to it in my last post when I said, "If the hardware is faulty, the hardware is faulty." How soon was it discovered that the AF took more of a hit than the GeForce 3? Did people still buy the GeForce 4, yes.
Why? In knowing that the AF takes more of a performance hit, why subject yourself to a GeForce 4 series piece of hardware? Because it was faster than the Radeon 8500, that's your answer. I am sure that they didn't mean to fall so short in the AF algorythms, well some of the Nvidia employees didn't. I make that statement given the current points of veiw of Nvidia's hardware releases this year.
I am sure they were very truthful in what they wanted out of the NV30. Did it happen, no... it didn't. Has the image quality improved since the GeForce 3, I think so... many others believe so as well. Infact, many say it is comparable to the ATi 9800. Do I believe they are making an effort to bring high image quality with high performance? I think so, they have shown that with the 5700 Ultra.
I think Nvidia may be taking notes from ATi now, in that they are trying out new things with their mainstream products first. Which I imagine they will bring what they have learned into their enthusiast product soon.
Make a mistake, learn from it. As long as they learn from their mistake, I am no longer gonna be on this "Nvidia DIE!!!" trip that many around here appear to be on.
I still recommend ATi products, however I don't recommend all of them. I see to many good deals to ignore.
I hope I answered your question, if I haven't... I am not really sure the answer you are looking for then. If I didn't, I don't think you are gonna get the answer your looking for... but I will try to clear things up.