Nope, we're not developing for smartphones. That's the statement Nintendo seemingly made after reports surfaced just days ago of a Pokémon game arriving on the iOS and Android platforms this summer. Given that Nintendo's little pocket monsters are typically caught exclusively on Nintendo's hardware, it was assumed that the company was finally beaten in the mobile sector and diving into smartphone development.
But apparently that's not the case... or so they say. Nintendo spokesperson Yasuhiro Minagawa said that the company's strategy to develop software only for its own hardware “hasn’t changed and won’t change." Nintendo only owns 32-percent of the Pokémon franchise and Game Freak presumably owns the rest, thus Nintendo doesn't have control over where the Pokémon brand can infest.
Bloomberg reports that Nintendo shares rose as much as 4.9-percent after news of Pokémon arriving on iOS and Android surfaced earlier this week. "The share movement showed how much investors are hoping for Nintendo to change its strategy," said Mitsuo Shimizu, an analyst at Cosmo Securities Co. in Tokyo. "Nintendo should consider developing games for smartphones or players that can also act as mobile phones, as it suits the lifestyles of many people."
There's no question that Nintendo investors are wanting the company to change its strategy. After the Wii U's reveal at E3 2011 back in June, market shares suddenly dropped to a five-year low during the show. And although the Wii U is aiming to win back the hardcore gamers it lost with the previous family-oriented Wii machine, investors are worried that Nintendo is putting too much focus on hardware and ignoring the industry shift over to social networking.
"Although some experts seem to like the new device, I expected Nintendo to move more into the social networking business," said Mitsuo Shimizu, deputy general manager at Cosmo Securities in Tokyo. "It's a warning from investors that the company should reconsider its business strategy and move more aggressively into social gaming operations."
That said, Nintendo may want to reconsider its stance against smartphone development. In 2009, the company commanded a 70-percent share of the U.S. portable game software market followed by Apple's iOS with a 19-percent share. In 2010, Nintendo lost a sizable chunk of the market to both iOS and Android, retaining 57-percent compared to the iOS/Android combo devouring a 34-percent share. Nintendo share numbers are expected to be even lower in 2011, thus triggering the assumption that it was entering the smartphone arena with the release of the Pokémon app.
But Nintendo doesn't think it's suffering a beating from iOS and Android despite the numbers. "So far, consumers have not stopped playing with Nintendo DS because they are using these [mobile] services or playing social games," Satoru Iwata said during a 2011 financial results briefing earlier this year.
Guess he hasn't seen the layers of dust collecting on my DS. Farmville anyone?