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Nintendo: Apple can 'hurt us' more than Microsoft

Nintendo of America Presdient Reggie Fils-Aime says last week that Apple is the biggest threat to his company in the "near term," even more so than Microsoft.

Reggie talking Nintendo at E3 2010.
Reggie talking Nintendo at E3 2010.
Daniel Terdiman/CNET

Nintendo believes Apple is a bigger threat to its business than Microsoft, the company's president said in an interview last week.

"Do I think that in the near term [Apple] can hurt us more than Microsoft?" Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime said to Forbes in an the interview. "Absolutely."

But that doesn't mean Nintendo thinks Apple can eventually beat it. Fils-Aime told Forbes that Apple is catering to a "casual" audience that craves "distraction," while Nintendo is providing a more well-rounded gaming experience that "consumes" audiences.

Whether or not that's true is up for debate. But even with that brave face, Fils-Aime and his company have every reason to worry about Apple.

Last week, Apple announced during a quarterly earnings call that it sold a whopping 14.1 million iPhones in the last quarter. In August, the last month market-research firm NPD reported hardware unit sales, it found Nintendo had sold approximately 342,000 DS units.

Even worse for Nintendo, an increasing number of people are finding value in playing video games on an iOS-based device.

Research firm Flurry Analytics announced earlier this year that Nintendo's mobile market share declined from 75 percent in 2008 to 70 percent in 2009. Apple's iOS platform, on the other hand, increased its market share from 5 percent in 2008 to 19 percent in 2009.

But casting Microsoft aside as a less-worrisome threat might also come back to haunt Nintendo.

Although the Wii is still far and away the most popular game console on the market right now, NPD announced in its September report that the Xbox 360's sales were up 34 percent year-over-year. September was also the Xbox 360's "best month of unit sales."

The Wii, on the other hand, has been experiencing declining sales. Last month, Nintendo told investors that it cut its Wii and DS shipment forecasts. The company had expected to sell 30 million DS units and 18 million Wii consoles, but now it believes it will ship 23.5 million DS units and 17.5 million Wii units by the end of its fiscal year, which closes on March 31.