Posted by: seanmalstrom | February 15, 2010

Why did Iwata say what he did concerning the i-Pad?

Over the years, I’ve enjoyed reading people like Daniel Eran Dilger (of Roughly Drafted) since he provided useful information about the computer industry and, especially, Apple. But he couldn’t be more wrong about Nintendo. Worse, this campaign of defense of the i-pad, a product that certainly disappointed in its unveiling in comparison to products like the i-Phone, really brings home the charge that has been made against Dilger that he is a marketer for Apple or just a die-hard Apple fanboy. You can be a fan of a company and not like or incessantly defend everything they do.

Apparently, Dilger hurt his hand so he is making YouTube videos for his articles (don’t worry. Malstrom will never inflict you with home made videos). So I started listening to the first one, and I was spitting my drink out when listening to it. How ridiculous can one get?

I have gotten many emails asking about whether the i-Pad is disruptive and how effective of a product it is. I am postponing those thoughts to another post. This post will just be about Iwata’s reaction to it and why he had his reaction.

Dilger makes the most incredible statement: if you were not impressed with the i-Pad, you are not intelligent. And if you are intelligent and were not impressed with the i-pad, you had financial reasons not to be impressed. Now, does this make any sense? Not everyone is going to love every product Apple makes.

Dilger then leads off that to say that the President of Nintendo was not impressed with the i-Pad because he has reasons to not be impressed: he is scared of the i-Pad being a gaming powerhouse. I then proceeded to spit out my drink at that moment. In the youtube comments, a critic wrote this:

I’d rather carry around an ipod touch (that does the SAME thing and fits in my pocket,)then an ipad. 

PSA: How are you going to compare an ipad to a portable gaming device such as the DS?

A little kid isn’t going to carry around a giant ipod touch in his pocket.

You sir, FAIL.

Now, this is the typical very direct response you get from gamers. I love the no BS and fiery passion of the gamer. Dilger responds to this comment three times (!). What did he say? Let us listen:

Actually no, it does not do the same thing as the iPod touch. Haven’t you looked at it?

And check out the extended games developers demoed after a couple weeks to mock something up. It you’re not impressed, you’re just not very intelligent.

What the hell type of response is that last line? If you don’t like the Apple product then you are just not very intelligent? WTF?

Microsoft and Sony are trying to keep gamers interested in the same thing with more polygons in each new generation of hardware. And lately, they’re chasing Nintendo’s motion controller (belatedly).

Imagine what a $500 touch panel (that will eventually get cheaper, just like the Xbox and PS3) will allow in gaming. This has the potential to be a blockbuster game system.

No. Just because an electronic device can run games does not make it a “game system”. A “game system” is designed for the core purpose of gaming. And a $500 system is dead on arrival as a ‘game system’. Not even the PS3 with all the hype in the world could sell at that price. And since gaming is a momentum business, if you don’t get momentum earlier on it is unlikely the hardware ever will.

The kids will be carrying an iPad for school anyway, so the idea that they’ll want or need a thick DS (or DSi XL lulz!) in their pocket rather than an iPad in their backpack is a bit foolish.

Apple fans have a strange fixation on the DS and enter bizarro world. In the above statement, in order for kids to carry a $500 iPad for school, it is going to be years before it becomes cheap enough for kids. The DS is nearing six years old as a system. DS will be, what, seven years old, eight years old, nine years old before the iPad really drops in price?

It is pretty easy for a brand new technological gadget to compete, hardware wise, to a cheap entertainment device that is over half a decade old. But the fact that Dilger is straining the iPad vs. DS by pretending the DS will remain exactly the same, that Nintendo will put out no new hardware for years, while the iPad keeps lowering its price, shows just what a laugh the iPad is for gaming. The iPad should blow away the DS as the DS is already very old (in gaming terms). The fact that it doesn’t reveals how weak the iPad is on the gaming level. Gamers are not going to gravitate toward a button-less interface. The lack of enthusiasm for Natal shows this. The lack of gamers accepting the iPhone as their dominant handheld gaming medium shows this.

But about the Iwata comments “Iwata said he was disappointed with the iPad because he is scared of it”.

First of all, Iwata was asked by reporters about his reaction to the iPad. Iwata did not jump up onto a soapbox. Second, Iwata’s opinion wasn’t any different than most people’s reactions. Go to any comments section, and people will admit they agree with Iwata’s reaction.

There is another element as to why Iwata revealed what he did. You know what Iwata’s nightmare is? It is when he is announcing the successor to the DS or Wii and he receives the same exact response as the iPad did. The possibility of that probably keeps Iwata up at night.

Iwata is not responding to the iPad as a consumer. While Iwata is an Apple consumer, he is also President of Nintendo and this changes his perspective. Iwata is not an employee. He is a decision maker. As movers and shakers know, the personality of the employee is radically different from the decision makers at the top.

Iwata is not responding to the iPad as a competitor. Iwata does not even see Apple as a competitor or else he wouldn’t carry Apple products with him in public. People predicted that handheld gaming would be destroyed because of cell phone games. Yet, the DS still sells in massive numbers. Even though that number is slightly down lately, it is still massive numbers and still way ahead of the norm. And there hasn’t been any killer apps for the DS in a while either. And the DS, unlike the Apple products, have not received a price cut in half a decade. That is considered unprecedented.

Iwata is responding to Apple’s announcement of the iPad more as a colleague. Or a better way to put it, Iwata doesn’t look at the Apple announcement as a member of the audience. He is looking at it as if he was the Steve Jobs on stage. This is natural since Iwata, himself, has to go on stage and present products in a similar fashion. The companies of Apple and Nintendo are more similar than they differ.

Iwata’s biggest fear is to reveal the new product and have a tepid and apathetic response. The “It’s just a bigger Ipod Touch” is exactly the same line of thinking why Nintendo won’t put out a Wii HD.

What is the Wii HD? It is just a bigger Wii. There is no other difference to it. Would a Wii HD get people excited? The answer is no. If Nintendo made a Wii HD, the consumer response would be identical to the iPad. The market would give a huge ‘meh’.

Iwata’s job is to make sure the market doesn’t go ‘meh’. He is looking at the i-Pad as what not to do. He is not looking at it in any sort of fear of competitor.

And in order for Apple to be taken seriously as a game hardware company, Apple must buy or absorb game companies as Microsoft and Sony has done. Apple hasn’t done this.

In order to compete with Nintendo, Apple needs to make a handheld console, not a handheld computer.


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