Yes and no.
First, to get it out of the way, Nvidia makes the retirement of the 71 driver series official: http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=ODQyNQ
Second: at this time Nouveau is still little better than a Vesa driver that recognizes Nvidia cards. Unlike the VESA driver though, it supports EXA Xv, and RandR12: http://nouveau.freedesktop.org/wiki/FrontPage#Status
Which means it's a heck of a lot faster than the VESA driver, and will handle dual head / rotated screen setups. It is, however, nowhere near close to the X.org ATi driver on efficiency and speed, or features. Here's the ATi driver matrix for comparisons: http://www.x.org/wiki/RadeonFeature
Now for the, um, correction. Nvidia doesn't have anything to do with Nouveau. Nvidia has pubically declined to involve itself with the project or the developers. I'm sorry, but I find the idea that Nvidia was waiting on Nouveau to improve to the point where they could retire their not-really-open-source NV driver and the 71 performance driver, a bit ludicrous. Well, more than a bit. I find it entirely ludicrous. That's like saying that at least Microsoft waited for KDE 4.3 to launch before launching Windows 7. Sure, KDE 4.3 launched in August 2009 and Windows 7 launched in October 2009, but that's a pretty hard sell to say that Microsoft was waiting on an competitor to get their product out first.
Fair enough, retiring an old driver when an Open-Source one was ready was AMD's strategy on their DX9 / OpenGL cards... but the X.org ATi driver was also far more mature in features, and outside of 3D gaming performance support, the X.org ATi driver at the time was largely ready to step in and replace the mainline Catalyst driver. AMD is actually involved with the X.org ATi driver as well, outright hiring developers after Novell fizzled on the X.org RadeonHD driver, providing code drops, and providing documentation drops. They've got somebody on staff who bug fixes Rage128.
Just because that's how AMD did it, given Nvidia's open-source history, Nvidia's own comments on the Nouveau driver, and Nvidia's actions towards the Open-Source Communities, I just can't picture Nvidia following the same strategy.