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OK, here’s a thought, just a thought, but I’ve given it some good thinking time. So we know that E3 is coming on June 6th, and Nintendo is set to unveil its next console. Supposedly blah blah blah does your homework and wipes your nose. The same day, Apple will be holding its own Worldwide Developers Conference. I’ve been wracking my brain trying to figure out why they would do it on such a tech loaded day when there would be press resources spread thin.
The tagline for Apple’s show is that they are set to offer a peek into the future of OS X and iOS. Okay, um, we’ve already seen that peek, Lion is set to ship this summer and betas are in developer hands. That train has already left the station. So what could they be referring to? Then recently I read several articles that caught my notice. One was yet another piece arguing that Apple is set to make an entry into the Television business with an App-able iOS based HDTV, its an interesting idea, but they’d really have reinvent the way we look at TV to do that, and so far AppleTV hasn’t done so great.
Then I recently read another article mentioning that Apple had poached two gaming industry PR personnel, one from Activision, and one, interestingly enough, from Nintendo. The article went on to downplay the speculation that would inevitably arise that Apple would be jumping into the games hardware market with a console of its own. And on a technical point, I’ll agree with him, but there is a catch. This article may be the missing Link (so to speak).
Iwata also said that, while he feels that cultivating developers within the company is key to Nintendo’s success, he recognizes that “it is not true that Nintendo is able to internally develop everything and keep up with the current pace of change.
“Honestly speaking, Wii’s future could have been different if Nintendo had made better partnerships with outside companies in the field of network services at the early stages of the penetration of Wii,” Iwata said. While he failed to mention any specific plans, Iwata stated that Nintendo may have been a little too focussed on keeping things internal in the past, but that they are already back on track and are working on differentiating between “what we can basically do by ourselves but can be done better by more skillful outside specialists.”
Nintendo needs strategic partnerships now more than ever and Apple obviously wants in on the gaming pie, anybody remember the Pippin? Now I’m not the first person to remark about how Apple and Nintendo seem to be very similar in their philosophy to their respective industries. I mean it’s pretty obvious these guys are like peanut butter and jelly, or Apple and…. pie? Mmmmm… pie… Ooops, sorry, anyway moving on.
The Apple TV has failed to set the world on the fire in the same way that fellow iGadgets have managed to do. Maybe that’s because no one’s quite sure what it does?
They would both benefit from a partnership, as an iOS based Nintendo console would get them some serious third party support, especially with Apple’s iDevices’ clout. Also, Apple would benefit from the chance to finally get an iDevice into the majority of American (and Japanese) living rooms, giving them the set top box market they’ve been having so much difficulty cracking with AppleTV.
So that leaves why the heck, if this were the real deal, Apple would be holding their expo at the same time as E3 in an entirely different part of the state? Well some ideas can be gleaned from the project name, and system names under consideration. The system is being referred to internally as Project Cafe, and one of the names being considered reportedly, is “Stream”. Okay, so what?
I’ll tell you, what better way to demonstrate a new hardware/software partnership between Apple and Nintendo than to have them debut a highly online connected system that “streams” games using a version of Java (like you find in coffee shops… or cafes?) with a simulcast dual press conference, wherein Satoru Iwata and Steve Jobs take each other on in a game of streaming Mario Kart?
It would be a strategic win for Apple especially if they continue to re-merge much of the OS X and iOS codebase/features as they’re doing for Mac OS X Lion. They would have a pretty much ready made game support for the Mac then, as games would be closely compatible. This would most likely increase Mac adoption I would think. Hmmmm.
Now I guarantee you that I am most likely 100% wrong on all of this. But it does make you think, doesn’t it?
Let me first thank you for emailing us and for being the one to help bring back our Mailbag.
Second, let me throw out there that once upon a time, I hated Apple’s products as gaming devices. I used to say (and the staff can back me up on this) that I would never buy an iPod Touch, especially for gaming. However, I received one for Christmas last year form my wife, and, although I still don’t believe it’s a great gaming device, I can definitely pick up a few quick games of Angry Birds or Air Tycoon 2. It’s definitely still more of a device for music, videos and other apps rather than gaming.
Now that you know that bit of history, you’ll see that I can very much agree with where you are coming from. Apple could use Nintendo, and vice versa. Everything you have said really raised my eyebrows, but let me tell you, I have definitely thought about it before. I just never thought as in depth as you have.
Here’s another little tid-bit to add to your massive database of Apple/Nintendo conspiracy files: Nintendo has said that 3D movies will be made available for download. Wouldn’t this be a perfect way for iTunes to step into the 3D movie market? Once Nintendo announced plans for 3D movies, I instantly thought about how cool it would be if iTunes was the service to implement this and allow for not only 3D movies, but music, podcasts and more on my 3DS. always found it weird that Nintendo always supports AAC music files over others.
Angry Birds anyone?
I do see the ease of which this can all be put together. Looking at how Nintendo calls out Apple over everyone else and now saying they need to grow their outside relationships can make a very compelling case. The odd same-day conference of Apple is almost unreal. A few E3s ago, maybe. But in today’s gaming market? Just, wow. The only other thing we need to find out is if their scheduled conference time matches up with Nintendo’s. If we can find out they match, then we have something (or maybe Apple just wants to cut into more of Nintendo’s time?)
Finally, we have the controller. A touch screen controller? Okay, maybe this is pushing it because Nintendo has already been doing a touch screen handheld, but just the amount of people comparing it to a controller with an iPod built-in is… weird. I mean, why not say it has a DS built-in?
However, we have to take history into account and what Apple has done against Nintendo. Apple has already held a conference during Satoru Iwata’s keynote address this year and launched the iPad 2 the same day as 3DS in Europe. Some may say that that was then, and now is well, now. But, for the production and partnership of “Project Café,” Apple should have been competing more with others rather than Nintendo.
So, what do I think? Heck no. There’s no way. Can we dream? Definitely, because I love my 3DS as a gaming machine while I love my iPod Touch for everything else. Combining any form of those into a home gaming console would be almost as awesome as combining those two. But come on, the conspiracies add up, but not the facts.
Then again, it does make you think…
Oh, and by the way, Satoru Iwata would easily win out in Mario Kart over Steve Jobs.
— Greg Wampler
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