News Article

Nintendo Researching Mobile Phone Possibilities

Posted by James Newton

Don't rule it out

In the days of the Game Boy, the idea of a portable telephonic device that also contained a powerful games console was a complete pipe dream, but here in the 21st Century the smartphone market undeniably overlaps with Nintendo's handheld consoles. Never one to be bullied out of its own game, Nintendo has conducted considerable research into mobile phones — research that's still ongoing.

Satoru Iwata responded to a frankly fantastic question pitched at a recent shareholder Q&A that began:

I own some shares but I do not have any Nintendo products. Basically, I think "Games are a waste of time" and, therefore, I would like a product that has value added to it so that even I would buy one.

Undeterred, Iwata touched on Nintendo's thoughts on the smartphone situation, discussing the pros and cons and revealing Nintendo is still yet to decide if it will head down this route:

If we had never considered combining a mobile phone and a handheld device, we would be negligent, but on the other hand, mobile phones are subject to monthly fees and we need to consider how well this would fit with game devices or how we should balance these aspects. Adding to this, mobile phone companies are generally divided by countries and when running a business on a worldwide basis, we need to consider in what conditions can we partner up with mobile phone companies around the world. Please understand that we are still researching these areas.

Last year we reported that Nintendo and Nokia developed a phone concept that failed to get the board's approval. Do you think a Nintendo smartphone would fare better these days?

[via nintendo.co.jp]

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User Comments (56)

Retro_on_theGo

#2

Retro_on_theGo said:

I think it would work. But Iwata is right that the monthly fee would be a problem. I don't think I could afford one in that case.

grumblebuzzz

#4

grumblebuzzz said:

I totally want a Nintendo phone but PLEASE PLEASE don't make it an AT&T exclusive! I am counting down the days till I'm free of the shackles that bind me to that terrible company.

SilverBaretta

#7

SilverBaretta said:

Man, that guy who asked the question must be trying to sleaze his way to the top, '80s style.

Mr_joker

#11

Mr_joker said:

if Nintendo came out with a phone i would buy 10 of them lol but seriously Nintendo is one of the most innovative companies out there, just imagine what a Nintendo phone would look like.

Supremeist

#12

Supremeist said:

No thanks Nintendo.
I think a phone would be cool and they could make it pretty awesome, but they just aren't suited or in the right position to be thinking of making a Mobile Phone.

jerryo

#13

jerryo said:

it's not phones silly, but modern devices that can provide connectivity no matter where you are. if you are on the conservative side, and something like that ever happens (yeah right) keep it to yourself and simply don't use the feature.

let the rest of us enjoy what modern technology can do for games and gamers. nintendo has lost the battle. end of story, they are still researching 3G connectivity.. they are still researching the internet, they are still researching next gen graphics, they are still researching digital distribution, they are still researching the asian markets, ... well hello ninty and wake up before you fall down hard. while you are "researching" the rest are already there!!!!

pick up the pace, JUMP forward and stop dragging your feet and the fans with you.. for many .. patience with nintendo's quirkiness is something they don't have enough left any more. it was cute for a while, but it has started becoming terribly annoying!

Chris720

#14

Chris720 said:

Uhm... not my kinda thing... it might work, sure, but combining two completely different things is kinda weird.

The iPhone can do it... however think of it this way: It's primarily a phone for communicating with others, it can still play video games, however these are usually low on content and end quickly, it also lacks buttons reducing what you can see on screen.

Combining these two to work together would be quite hard anyway, either you're in the middle of a game and someone calls you or you call them and they're in the middle of a game.

Combining these two just wouldn't work in my mind.

Punny

#15

Punny said:

I know it's been done to death, but a video gaming mobile phone from Nintendo sounds really cool! Plus, unlike most mobile phone video games, the ones on an alleged "Nintenphone" would be full-fledged adventures, not just time killers (there would still be those kinds of games, of course). :)

CorbsAdmin

#16

Corbs said:

Even having an iPhone, I hardly ever play games on it. I'll stick to my dedicated handheld game systems for gaming on the go. :D

NintyMan

#19

NintyMan said:

That would be cool, but he's right to be wary of monthly fees. Not only that, but Nintendo would also be in competition with Apple, like it or not. That would be hairy business.

But, still, I think Nintendo should put their focus on games most of all, and I'm sure they will contiue to do just that.

komicturtle

#20

komicturtle said:

I wouldn't buy a Nintendo phone off the bat less the battery life accommodate the fact it's a gaming phone. Because gaming on a phone while on the go is begging for a disaster to happen- especially emergencies.

Henmii

#21

Henmii said:

First the Pokemon app, now this talk....

I'll put it shortly: Create only games for your own devices, and don't create a phone!!!

As for the guy with the insane question: He thinks games are a waste of time, but strangely having game-shares isn't a waste of time? That's stupid!

Squiggle55

#23

Squiggle55 said:

I second that irken, skype is all I need and want. paying to talk to people is so 2007. :p

Moco_Loco

#24

Moco_Loco said:

They are probably watching what happens with the Xperia Play. Right now Sony seems to be keeping the focus on their older games. I think a similar retro approach would work well.

Nintendophile

#25

Nintendophile said:

Watch, Nintendo will make an awesome game/phone hybrid, but then only make it offered and usable in Japan... Because I'm an eternal pessimist. lol.

triforceofcourage

#26

triforceofcourage said:

They likely wouldn't allow it to go online... Or text... And you would need friend codes to call someone, so... I would NOT buy one. lol

Mr_Nose

#28

Mr_Nose said:

So, go invest in a phone company, instead of something that's a 'waste of time'.

timp29

#29

timp29 said:

Please avoid phones nintendo. You're too late to the party. Can google even give apple a shake?

Basically, unless they can revolutionise the phone world with some amazing new technology, they will never shake down the established brands. There is no way I would buy a nintendo phone just because it is branded nintendo. Also, being locked into contracts for up to two years at a time makes the market share accessible with a new mobile phone product much smaller.

C-195

#30

C-195 said:

Nintendo making a phone? Not gunna happen. Studying them's fine, but trying to make and sell one? It would be suicide with Apple around.

JayceJa

#32

JayceJa said:

if nintendo came out with with a mobile phone enabled console, it would only work if there was a non-mobile alternative

similar to the DSi really, it would be an enhanced 3DS, or whatever the next console will be, with mobile phone capabilities, but for those who dont want one, either because they would rather have a dedicated mobile phone, dont want the monthly fees, etc. they can stick with the regular 3DS or whatever the next console will be

the whole different national industries could also post a problem like he mentioned, though i feel the main problem would be being able to cater to both the younger market who wouldnt need it, and the older market that does

Negi444

#34

Negi444 said:

I Think it would be a bad idea. Nintendo should stick with consoles and games.

Sadsack_Awesome

#35

Sadsack_Awesome said:

@1. Well will it end itself? :3

ON TOPIC:
Nintendo + Phones = An utter nightmare
But seriously folks, that idea just WOULDN'T WORK. And besides, people would get plenty of abuse from Sony fans...

Person A: Yo, what phone network are you on and what type of phone is it? Mine's a Vodaphone Touchscreen Smartphone 9001 v5.

Person B: I'm on the Nintendo Phone network and my phone is a Nintendo-kia.

Person A, C, D, E, and F: laughing

Person A: Smell you later, [insult removed due to the fact that it would insult Nintendo and/or it's fans]!

SigourneyBeaver

#38

SigourneyBeaver said:

There's no way to mix phones and gaming on the same device and have something that works well for both uses. It's impossible.

NiaLovesNinty

#40

NiaLovesNinty said:

Yeah, can't see myself buying a nintenophone lol. If it looks like the one in the photo however, I'd probably buy it for the novelty lol..

SuperLink

#41

SuperLink said:

I'd be happy to buy an NES phone or something along the lines of that, but I would not want it to be a portable gaming system also. Just a phone. That would be enough.

TheToader

#42

TheToader said:

If you take the 3DS, make it into a slider, maybe exchange the 3D screen for a touch screen, add in the phone parts, keep the DS/3DS card slots, and now you got a perfect mobile phone/gaming system.

erv

#43

erv said:

Not happy to hear a president not believing in its own products...

But considering the japanese work till you die culture, this is somewhat plausible and reassuring. Yet, mr. Iwata, start gaming please. You'll know by next gen what the best nintendo console ever should be.

premko

#44

premko said:

Great idea, Nintendo ! Together with Nokia they may produce the new N(intendo)gage !!!! (no sarcasm!)

MeloMan

#45

MeloMan said:

All electronics are slowly incorporating thing that were otherwise thought to be obsurd to cross over into, but if Nintendo could even incorporate some free phone functionality (skype incorporation would be a good start) with their game system, then they can cross line w/o it be such a major component that subscription fees will be needed. THIS is the biggest thing I know Nintendo is researching and they will NOT release something like this until they find a solution for it, think the timing is right, all of the above, or other.

AltDotNerd

#47

AltDotNerd said:

I practically gave this idea to Nintendo years ago. I have proof too. I sent an e-mail to Nintendo Power suggesting they market cell phones and laptops. The letter was published in the magazine (I forgot which issue, but I still have it).

motang

#49

motang said:

They seriously need to evolve, this is a good thing. It would be better if they partner up with a manufacturer like HTC.

TKOWL

#50

TKOWL said:

I wouldn't stick my dirty ear to a device, then play with it the next second.

hydeks

#51

hydeks said:

iwata said "games are a waste of time"...woah!! that's definitely not something I wanna hear from the president of Nintendo!

Ohh and a Nintendo phone, no thanks, but a adding the cellphone text feature into Nintendo handhelds would love to see.

Wheels2050

#52

Wheels2050 said:

Given their hesitance to even jump into online (something which is taken for granted on every other platform) I think the even bigger jump to a mobile phone would end up failing miserably.

I think the only thing really holding back the convergence of mobile phones and gaming is form factor. Big screens on top of room for many buttons and a way to read media, as required for gaming, is the polar opposite to the sleek designs that are called for in mobile phones these days.

Of course, they could head more towards the phone end of the spectrum, with basic gaming abilities, but that would hardly be worth it, let alone the difficulty in differentiating it from competitors.

In short, I don't see it happening.

@hydeks: That was an investor, not Iwata who said that.

@Henmii: Just because the investor thinks games are a waste of time doesn't make it a bad investment. The crucial thing as far as the investor is concerned is that lots of other people DON'T see it that way.

capitalism

#53

capitalism said:

I think Nintendo could do something really unique if they just released an app for the 3DS that could make your 3DS intercept your home phone calls or make calls to your home phone as long as your conected to the internet on your 3DS. Have a deal with AT&T who they're already close with for internet service and make it a small add on to your bill. It would be something that hasnt been done before and will give people a reason to carry around their 3DS with them. Also have a skype based app that lets people skype seamlessly when they see their friends online. Two totally affordable apps that are innovative and could be done way cheaper than charging people for mobile phone service. Whatever they choose I know Nintendo will do it their own way and thats why I love them.

hydeks

#54

hydeks said:

@Wheels2050: ok cool, yay I was kinda wondering. It would be weird that the president of Nintendo hate video games, he'ld basicly hate his whole life :P

Ceviche_Stiles

#55

Ceviche_Stiles said:

I think that a revamped WiiU Tablet would be awesome. Think about.. The tablet would work with the console, as well as act as a completely independent tablet, with Wi-Fi and 3G (4G). Throw in a nintendo exclusive app store for the tablet, and you have great nintendo apps, complete socialization, and game console connectivity! To me that is complete serenity. :D

eviLaTtenDant

#56

eviLaTtenDant said:

I think they'd have to hire many more people to develop a really good smartphone.
And i'd say i wouldn't want it.

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