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Nintendo needs to embrace the iPhone

August 14, 2009

iphone-nes

When Nintendo reported its earnings a couple of weeks ago, they finally conceded something I’ve been saying for months: That the iPhone is real competition for its Nintendo DS Lite and DSi. Unfortunately, Nintendo seems to own own up to things about as quickly as John Edwards.

The significant change in strategy for Nintendo in mobile gaming that I had hoped for didn’t come with the DSi. My DS Lite colected so much dust since the launch of the iPhone’s App Store, I skipped the DSi. My decision was a good one for my wallet: Games like Hell’s Kitchen and The Price is Right, which sell for up to $20 on the DS, go for as little as 99 cents on the App Store.

So what should Nintendo do? Take advantage of Apple new iPhone SDK that allows for accessories that plug into the dock connector, come up with a case for the iPhone that plugs in and adds traditional game controls, and push out every single NES and SNES game out to the App Store. While they’re at it, taking a cut of every 3rd party game that wants to use their gaming accessory wouldn’t be a stretch. Everyone would be happy: Nintendo stays in the handheld hardware business (Albeit as a Made for iPhone accessory maker), Jobs & Co. make the iPhone an even bigger must-have, and consumers get to avoid having to play bad NES emulators with lame touch controls.

It’s hard to argue with success, and Nintendo is currently walloping the competition in both handhelds and consoles. But unless Nintendo decides to go this route, they’ll have a hard time staying relevant in casual handheld gaming.

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