Nintendo Denies Reports of Smartphone Games

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?

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  • Anonymous
    Nintendo's always been stubborn and went their own way in the face of shifting market trends. It's served them well thus far, but it may time to change.
  • Marco925
    Guess he hasn't seen the layers of dust collecting on my DS. Farmville anyone?

    Nintendo knows what they are doing. Not everyone has the same likes and dislikes, while You may not play with your DS, many people Do. it's biased to imply that because think your DS is boring that everyone agrees with you. It's an unwarranted attack on tech journalism and should be neutral.
  • Anonymous
    I disagree ^. He could have worded it differently but that wouldn't spark comments. I suggest he is not unique and there are plenty of people who think similarly than he does. Once you develop an outline of his preferences, and start grouping all people that fit that profile, there's probably a significant number. So, in essence, he is merely stating that he and people who feel the same he does, has not been fully exploited by Nintendo, and Nintendo could of course explore this and find room for improvement to better keep all those who invested in the DS continue to invest in the DS.