Nintendo says no to smarthphones, will stick with consoles

5:17 PM, Jan 30, 2014   |    comments
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(CNET) -- Things have been a bit rocky in Mario land. A day after Nintendo announced disappointing earnings, including a 30 percent decline in profits and lower Wii U sales than in 2012, its president, Satoru Iwata, on Wednesday held a strategy briefing in Tokyo to discuss a strategic turnaround.

Iwata kicked off the briefing by insisting he's not pessimistic about the outlook for gaming consoles. He also said that Nintendo doesn't plan to give up on its hardware business -- game consoles will continue to be the center of its strategy. 

"Lots of people have said we should go onto smartphones over the last few years, telling us our business would increase," he told analysts. "But our approach is not to put our games on smartphones."

This reiterates the statement he made to Engadget yesterday, denying earlier reports that the company would offer free minigames on smartphones that will act as demos of full-priced console and 3DS games.

Itawa acknowledged that change is important, but he pointed to the massive changes that the company has undergone throughout its history, including moving from Hanafuda cards to game consoles.

Perhaps the worst bit of news during Nintendo's earnings call was that the company expects to sell just 400,000 Wii U units worldwide during the first quarter of 2014. Itawa said the company plans to counteract this by focusing on making software that takes advantage of the GamePad's abilities, particularly the NFC (near-field communications) technology.

On the plus side, Nintendo announced that it plans to release Mario Kart 8 in May, which should be welcome news to avid fans of the popular franchise.

Iwata also hinted at a new market the company is planning to enter: health. Noting that there are already a bevy of wearable devices on the market, he said Nintendo is going to try out "non-wearables" to monitor people's health -- though what he meant by non-wearables wasn't entirely clear. The only hint that he gave was that it wouldn't be something you would use in your living room. The company plans to discuss what it means by non-wearables in more details later this year. 

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