updated 08:40 pm EDT, Mon October 25, 2010
Nintendo says iPod more threat than Xbox
Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime made a rare admission for the company and said in a recent interview that Apple was a bigger threat to its share of gaming than Microsoft. Despite the Xbox 360's recent lead, he explained that the iPhone and iPod were "absolutely" larger threats in the near future. Apple had a similar effect to Farmville or other entertainment in that it consumed free time that wouldn't be devoted to a Nintendo system, the executive told Forbes.
"I compete with Zynga, I compete with surfing the net, I compete with the newspaper," he said.
He painted iOS devices as good for casual play, but explained that Nintendo's edge was in-depth gaming. About 14 of the 20 bestselling games of current-generation consoles are for Nintendo systems, and some are consciously deep titles like the Japanese RPG Dragon Quest IX that Fils-Aime had personally played for 150 hours.
Publicly, Nintendo had previously tried to downplay Apple's effect, but inside leaks have hinted that the DSi maker considers Apple its main enemy, ignoring even its 15-year-old rival Sony. DS sales have plummeted in the past year even with price cuts and newer revisions like the DSi XL. The six-year-old hardware may have contributed to fatigue with the existing platform, but the iPhone and iPod touch are widely believed to have damaged Nintendo's share by leading many to choose a multi-purpose Apple device over a separate gaming system and a phone or media player.
Both Nintendo and Sony are known to have lost gaming revenue share to Apple between 2008 and 2009, just after the App Store launched and games became one of the driving factors behind the iPod touch. The trend may continue into 2011 as the 3DS has been delayed into late winter.
Microsoft in contrast has no handheld gaming outside of the games hub inside Windows Phone 7 and, while individually more successful than Nintendo's usual bestseller the DS, can't affect its combined output compared to the broader reach of iOS hardware.