Nintendo vs. Apple and Google in Gaming

Smartphones have absolutely crashed the mobile gaming industry party since the iPhone came onto the scene in 2007 – can Nintendo answer?

It’s going to be a tough fight. The iPhone’s app store has more than 350,000 apps. Games and entertainment is the most popular app category, making up about a quarter of the total, Apple recently said.

Nintendo 3DS
Yoshikazu Tsuno | AFP | Getty Images
Nintendo 3DS

That’s turf that used to belong to mobile consoles like Nintendo’s DS and Sony’s PSP. Both companies are responding in different ways.

Sony recently embraced a new smartphone-friendly strategy, with the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play. It’s an Android phone with a slide-out controller. Sony also plans a mobile console called the NGP in time for the holidays.

What’s Nintendo going to do? Yesterday at the Game Developer Conference in San Francisco, I caught up with Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime, and asked him. He said it’s all about the 3DS, a new handheld gaming system that displays the action in real 3D.

No glasses.

“This is a very different type of proposition versus what our competitions may be doing,” he said.

“For us, we believe that this form of entertainment, games plus other video content, 2D and 3D, really is going to a more powerful proposition for our consumers.”

I got a chance to check out the 3DS there at the show, and while our camera doesn’t pick up the effect, it’s actually amazing. Apparently folks in Japan agree: Fils-Aime told me Nintendo sold 400,000 units in the first 48 hours of Japanese sales last week, the fastest sell-out ever.

The 3DS arrives here in the U.S. on March 27 for 250 bucks.

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