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Summary:

It’s quickly becoming clear that the big potential console war to watch now has nothing to do with Microsoft and Sony, or even the living room; instead, it may be between Apple and Nintendo, and their top handheld systems. Consider: Back in March, Nintendo quietly filed […]

iPhone gets into the gameIt’s quickly becoming clear that the big potential console war to watch now has nothing to do with Microsoft and Sony, or even the living room; instead, it may be between Apple and Nintendo, and their top handheld systems.

Consider: Back in March, Nintendo quietly filed a patent for a handheld console with sensor control, then updated it last week. As described, it’s not unlike the iPhone’s position-sensitive accelerometer. Meantime, the New York Post reports that Apple is stealthily looking to add game functionality to the iPhone, with one source claiming a major developer has been tinkering with the iPhone for quite awhile. (“Where are the iPhone games?” I recently asked. Apparent answer: coming soon, in a big way.)


Gamer blogs like Kotaku and Destructoid think this translates into a head-to-head competition. I’d say that’s simplifying things. The Nintendo DS is priced around $200, while the iPhone costs, what was it again, ten times that and your left kidney. It’s like saying BMW is competing with Hyundai.

Still, a feature overlap will inevitably lead to indirect competition– even if one company doesn’t want it. As a corporate culture, Nintendo has historically shown little interest in creating all-in-one devices. That’s precisely why, when Microsoft and Sony came out with their function-laden (and high-priced) 360 and PS3, Nintendo went with the Wii, which did one thing only, and did it well.

But now comes the iPhone, loaded with features and still riding heavy buzz, pushing into the game space, Nintendo’s territory. How should they respond? Well, the DS already comes equipped with a microphone and wireless connectivity; add a Skype-type application, and the two systems would be in more direct competition. (With lower price and greater install base giving DS the edge.)

Assuming, of course, that Nintendo wants to go that way. I’m curious to see if the company takes Apple’s move as a challenge– or if they respond, as they did with Microsoft and Sony, by just ignoring it.

Image credit: NoHeat.com.

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  1. So you are saying that a mythical war that someone from that bastion of news The New York Post dreamt up may or may not have a response from a games company? And let’s turn the DS into a Skype phone? Really? Why? It’s a games machine.

    And this passes as an article? Weird.

  2. Om, you are also overlooking the introduction in the (near-ish) future, say Nov/Dec ’07, of a lower-priced iPhone. If it mimics most of the features of its big brother, including games support, we could be talking a much lower price differential, and a potential to attract more users.

    Still, the market segments are far, far apart at this moment. I wouldn’t spend $200 on a DS at any time, despite being an avid gamer. I would buy an iPhone.

  3. A phone with games? say it ain’t so? what to do what to do?

  4. Neil Cauldwell Monday, August 13, 2007

    While both the iPhone and the DS both have innovative interfaces, only one of the parent companies has credibility in crafting compelling (albeit ‘cash cowed’, if that’s a verb) virtual worlds.

  5. Fact check – Nintendo DS are $130 retail, and you can get them for $110 on the street. Plus you don’t have to pay $60 per month for cell service for the DS…

    You need to spend a little time with the under 14 crowd if you think that the iPhone will compete with the DS in our lifetime. Both my 7 and 3 year old have DS’s, all of there friends have DS’s. Big Brain Academy opened the market to adults, but the tween’s and below are the drivers for the market.

    Although the DS games are half the price of the 3rd Gen systems, it doens’t matter when you sell 10 times the number of units

  6. Adding viop to the DS would be awsome. Skype or better yet gizmoproject would make it attractive to people who super casual gamers.

    The only problem might be is that Nintendo doesn’t want bad press if then kids start using it as a phone and the device is blamed for some sex offender being able to contact kds with out the parents knowing (not a strech to see some media outlets run with this).

    but again viop on the DS would be awsome

  7. I’ll have to politely but stridently call bullshit. I have both devices and love them both equally. (Well, OK I probably love my iPhone more but don’t tell my DS that.) But, there is no way in hell that Apple is going to turn into Nintendo’s biggest worry. Even if (big, big if) some neat-o games get launched on the iPhone by EA or Popcap (only real iPod game developers currently) …Nintendo franchises rock and will continue to only be on Nintendo platforms.

    Nintendo has generations of game success under their belt. Every Apple gaming initiative to date has produced generations of unsatisfied gamers.

  8. There might be some patent conflicts but I don’t see these products competing in the market. They have only a superficial similarity. The iPhone is many things but it is not a game platform. It might gain a few incidental games. The DS is a game platform. It might gain some incidental voice capability but that is far from making it into a platform like the iPhone.

  9. Wagner James Au Monday, August 13, 2007

    “Nintendo DS are $130 retail”

    Hmm, it Googles up first as $170-$199, but you’re definitely right better deals can be had.

  10. Cult of Mac » Blog Archive » To Reiterate: iPhone And DS Will Go Head-to-Head Tuesday, August 14, 2007

    [...] day the iPhone was released, a reckoning is due between Apple and Nintendo in the coming years. As GigaOM reported today, Nintendo has filed a patent for a tilt-sensitive handheld console (a perfect companion to the [...]

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