March 7, 2014 - 20:38

Nintendo should build the new iPod

Painting the idea of a device reviving Music Players as well as the interest in Nintendo

First of all, you may have heard that Apple’s iPod is selling rather bad. Once responsible for the company’s second great rise, the flagship device seems to be more kind like a hobby for a company the size of Apple today. It seems likely that they’re going to drop it soon, though the sales would certainly continue to increase with every hardware update. However, I assume Apple won’t ship more than one or two of said hardware updates to the brand, considering that the effort is probably simply too big, as the iPod sales are only slightly above the ones of the mac, but that the latter one also costs much more than the cheapest iPod.

Secondly, you may also have heard that Nintendo - the iconic Japanese company behind Mario and other big franchises - is in trouble. Even though the 3DS turned out to be a commercial success, this year it’s sales - and even more so the ones of the Wii U - are not only bad, but even worse than already expected. At a big presentation in January the company revealed that they were working hard on finding solutions to their problems (non-wearables and upcoming games making real use of the Wii U's Gamepad among others).

So combining these two aspects, I would suggest Nintendo to take over the music player business from Apple and to build the next iPod. The sales of the iPod may already be declining, but I think Nintendo has the creative power and abilities to build a music player still worth buying today where every phone can basically do the same - if not even better.

Nintendo is already strongly involved in some highly competitive markets, but I believe they might succeed against Apple following two easy steps:

STEP 1: I’ve already pointed out that I don’t think Apple is going to end the iPod business immediately, but that they probably will still release one to two hardware updates before the final end. However with Nintendo entering the market, Apple would probably react very offensive and release more and faster hardware updates than currently planned.

Because Apple’s devices would probably easily kill Nintendo’s, Nintendo should try to calm Apple down, emphasizing that they don’t want to steal their iTunes income. Of course a music player would have to feature an in-house music store, but this store should not be put in focus too much, but instead the possibility to get music elsewhere (for example from iTunes) should be highlighted strongly. Thus, Apple might care less about losing the iPod business, whereas the iTunes sales wouldn’t be affected.

STEP 2: This device should follow the footsteps of the Wii and make use of the Blue Ocean Strategy. I see Nintendo as a very smart company and they’ve also proven very creative many times. So I think that they would find a way reviving the currently dead Music Player business. My idea for such a feature might not be the most creative, but I think it could work:

Nintendo’s MP3 Player should be designed as a 2014 evolution of the ‘89 Game Boy. More so, the device should be able to run the whole library of Game Boy games (kind like the Virtual Console in persona). A thin and slick device, also intended to be Nintendo’s answer to smartphones.

At this point, I want to point out that this device is not intended to “save Nintendo”. The Music Player business will continue to decline. So that instead of making money selling billions of devices, Nintendo should price the device rather well (maybe around 70$) even considering that they would make up to no profit from selling hardware.

The purpose of this device, however, would be to on the one hand side drive consumers back to Nintendo and guide them to their main product line-ups - currently represented by the Wii U and the 3DS.

On the other hand side, a small amount of money might be made anyway through the “killer feature” of this device: being capable of running all Game Boy games. Those can be downloaded in an smartphone-level app store for 4.99$ each.

I first thought about selling the low-def originals for 4.99$ and simple higher def remakes for 9.99$. However I guess this would void the real sense and intent of this device (bringing consumers back to other Nintendo consoles) because these HD remakes might already be enough for many consumers to replace a real console. So I’d rather limit it to the for today's standards extremely pixelated originals only.

As already hinted, I also want this device to be seen as Nintendo’s answer to smartphones. One aspect of this would be to open the already mentioned app store to all developers.

Unlike the Wii U and the 3DS, which will probably - and as part of this idea also should - continue to be reserved for AAA-developers, also single persons can publish games for the ‘14 Game Boy. The trick, however, is that also these games would have to look extremely pixelated, featuring the same low-def resolution as Game Boy originals (at best maybe a little bit better than the 89’ handheld).

What I’m proposing here is a challenge and a really tough balancing, but I believe Nintendo to be able to achieve it. The goal is to make ‘14 Game Boy games - no matter whether Nintendo-made re-releases of old classics or apps by unbound developers - rather look and feel like smartphone apps. Even tough especially the ones by Nintendo might be much more challenging and time-consuming than a casual smartphone app, but I believe that - for big parts thanks to the low resolution - they could actually reach the goal, which is to arouse the empathy for Nintendo again and make consumers want “real” Nintendo consoles.

Being really excited about this idea, expect me to work the whole thing out a bit more and to release Part II of this soon, featuring more detailed plans for hardware layout and UI, as well as the whole, overall experience! Thanks for reading so far!


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March 7, 2014 - 20:38

Nintendo should build the new iPod

Painting the idea of a device reviving Music Players as well as the interest in Nintendo

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