Nintendo says it will not be joining the smartphone rat race like its gaming competitors, Sony and Microsoft. The news comes straight from the top, with Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime telling CNN during an interview on Friday that the company has no plans to release a device with phone functionality.
“We have no desire to get into telephony,” Fils-Aime told CNN Friday. “We believe that we will earn our way into someone’s pocket without having to offer that (phone capability) as an additional factor.”
According to Nintendo’s head of software development Hideki Konno, the company hasn’t entirely ruled out the idea of, say, a “3DS Phone,” but says that the additional costs associated with producing a device that must connect to a cellular network have turned Nintendo off to the idea.
“It’s not that I’m uninterested,” Konno told CNN. “However, I look at the business model, and I see so many additional costs that come into play. Would we increase the price of the software itself? The distribution couldn’t be free.”
Some believe a Nintendo phone would be a perfect fit for the company, who says its recently released 3DS handheld gaming device outsold any other DS or GameBoy system in terms of first-day sales.
The move toward mobile 3D has already begun, with both LG and HTC having already created their own glasses-free 3D smartphones. Both of these devices incorporate the technology found in the 3DS.
Sony will soon release its Xperia Play smartphone, also known as the “PlayStation Phone.” The touchscreen smartphone makes the most of its mobile gaming capabilities, with a slide-out game controller in place of a physical keyboard.
Nintendo, on the other hand, rejects the idea that gaming and cell phones mix. “Phones are utilities,” Fils-Aime said. “Phones are not by definition entertainment devices.”
For the most part, customers seem to agree. According to a new study by comScore, only a quarter of US cell phone users play games on their device. (Why? We have no idea.) That’s up slightly from November 2010, when only 22.6 percent of mobile users played games on their handsets. At that pace, it would seem Nintendo has plenty of time to mull this one over before it misses the boat.