Nintendo's rescue plan: Smart-device services and new "quality of life" business

Nintendo's rescue plan: Smart-device services and new
James Batchelor

By James Batchelor

January 30th 2014 at 11:54AM

Iwata briefs investors on platform holder's plans to engage consumers "outside the realm of video games"

Nintendo held an investor briefing this morning in which president Satoru Iwata revealed some interesting new plans to counter the platform holder's recent financial losses.

Once again reiterating that Nintendo will not bring its games to smartphones and tablets, Iwata said the firm will "begin using smart devices in the near future to form stronger ties with consumers", due to the volume of Nintendo users that also own such a device.

"It is our intention to release some application on smart devices this year that is capable of attracting consumer attention and communicating the value of our entertainment offerings," he told investors.

"We will no longer spend an equal amount of resources towards providing the same service both on and off device, but will instead concentrate on the one that has greater purpose as well as room for improvement.

"The environment in which our users can download paid software is one example of where we should aim to make more off-device improvements than on-device ones."

Which sounds very much like an eShop app to us.

Most interesting of all was Iwata's revelation that Nintendo plans to expand into a new business area that draws on the company's strength but is "independent from our video game platform business".

The new business will focus around "quality of life", starting with the theme of health. Iwata hopes this will expand into "learning and lifestyle", pointing to the success Nintendo has enjoyed with Brain Age, Art Academy, English Training and Cooking Navigator – the latter being only available in Japan.

The Nintendo president stressed that this does not just mean more Wii Fit: "We are considering themes that we have not incorporated to games for our existing platforms."

Iwata also hinted that, while the world has been looking at wearable technology at this month's CES, he plans to model the new business around "non-wearable" technology, a term he promised to explain further in a future briefing. Not sure if the Vitality Sensor counts as "non-wearable".

"We expect the QOL-improving platform to provide us with new themes which we can then turn into games that operate on our future video game platforms, too," he added. "Once we have established such a cycle, we will see continuous positive interactions between the two platforms that enable us to make unique propositions."

Nintendo is aiming to launch its new "quality of life" business during the financial year that begins in April 2015.

Other strategies mentioned include releasing new games and services in 2014 that make better use of the Wii U GamePad and seeking out new licensing partners to introduce Nintendo characters to consumers outside the realm of video games.