In a statement that one would normally associate with Time Lords, Terminators, or an alternate-1985 Biff Tannen, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata has dubbed Apple “the enemy of the future” according to a recent article in The Times. This is in stark contrast to Nintendo’s official position only two months ago, when Nintendo of America’s Cammie Dunaway was quick to point on that the iPhone had little impact on Nintendo’s 2009 US sales.
Despite this, Nintendo’s profits tumbled last year for the first time in six years. To put that into perspective, six years ago was prior to the release of both the Nintendo DS and Nintendo Wii – a time when many gamers were questioning whether or not Nintendo could even continue as a hardware manufacturer.
Iwata is reported to have named “the enemy” in recent talks with his senior executives, saying that Sony no longer posed a threat to their business and that their future competition would likely come from Apple.
The Times article was quick to point out that many developers now prefer Sony over Nintendo despite the sales because of the large install base and more typical target audience. However, if Iwata truly did say they were victorious over Sony, it seems likely that he was referring specifically to the handheld market. Despite constant revisions and superior technical specs, Sony’s PSP has continually lagged behind the Nintendo DS in sales. At present more than 130 million Nintendo DS’s have been shipped worldwide while the PSP has managed to sell roughly half that number, clocking in at 57.86 million according to recent data from VGChartz.com. It would also make sense because if Apple truly is the “future enemy,” it’s earned that title based on the gaming capabilities of its handheld devices.
Admitting that Apple poses a threat is a smart move for Iwata. Rather than riding on the success they’ve had so far, Nintendo will need to adapt in the face of changing competition if it wants to survive. The only thing I’d question in his statement is the word “future.” No offense, Iwata, but with more than 50 million iPhones sold in less than 3 years and an undisclosed number of iPod Touch’s sold in the same time, the enemy isn’t just already here – it’s been eating out of your kitchen for months.