When Microsoft announced its SmartGlass technology at E3 earlier this month, many immediately drew comparisons to Nintendo's upcoming Wii U tablet controller. Though Microsoft's SmartGlass isn't an actual device, the application will allow people to stream media from a mobile device, such as a tablet or smartphone, to their TV (similar to Apple's AirPlay). However, it will also be capable of turning the user's mobile device into a companion device or second screen that displays additional content related to whatever they happen to be doing on their Xbox.
The Wii U allows users to do something similar, with Nintendo utilizing the touchscreen controller to display content related to the game you're playing on your TV. Maps is a good example, as well as perhaps your character's in-game inventory. Despite Microsoft debuting something very similar at E3, Nintendo isn't at all worried about the competition.
Speaking during an investor event earlier this month, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata said that they're not worried about SmartGlass because it doesn't offer everything the Wii U does. Specifically, he's referring to the fact that while SmartGlass can turn your tablet or phone into a second screen, those devices don't have hardware controls and gamers want physical buttons for playing games.
"We know that the core users who love playing video games like controllers that you hold with two hands. But what you don't have on smartphones and tablets are the buttons and the control sticks that they prefer to use," Kotaky cites Iwata as saying. "Now, if they could hold a controller with two hands and hold a tablet or a smartphone with another hand, there would be no issue. Unfortunately, since it is not possible for humans to do that, you can't play a game in a way you can play with the Wii U."
However, the fact that SmartGlass and the Wii U controller offer similar functionalities is not completely lost on Iwata. Though he says the two technologies are different (because of the whole hardware buttons thing), they do both offer users the ability to have related or complimentary content displayed on a second screen. Iwata says it's great that Microsoft is following Nintendo's lead (the Wii U was first announced at E3 2011, a full year before SmartGlass) because it means Nintendo is on the right track. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, or something like that?