Nintendo: We won't develop for smartphones

The game company says its goal has been, and will continue to be, developing its first-party titles for its own hardware, and nothing else.

Don Reisinger
Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
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Nintendo won't be developing for smartphones.
Nintendo won't be developing for smartphones. Nintendo

Nintendo says that it has no plans to develop for mobile platforms, including Apple's iOS or Android, the company told Bloomberg in a phone conversation today.

Nintendo's Yasuhiro Minagawa told Bloomberg that its long-standing strategy of developing games only for its own hardware "hasn't changed and won't change."

Prior to Minagawa's comments, Nintendo's shares were on the rise due to speculation that the company might follow Pokemon and develop games for smartphones, since it's a minority stakeholder in that company. However, Nintendo told Bloomberg that Pokemon is an independent company, and its decisions do not affect its own strategies.

As the top portable-hardware company in the game industry, Nintendo has been feeling pressure from the increasing popularity of smartphone-based video games. According to a report from Flurry Analytics, in 2009, Nintendo owned 70 percent of the U.S. portable game software market, followed by iOS with 19 percent share. Last year, Nintendo's market share slumped to 57 percent as the combination of iOS and Android rose to 34 percent share.

What's more, that trend doesn't appear to be slowing down. Just yesterday, Nielsen released a study that found games are by far the most popular application category on mobile platforms. Each month, the average mobile gamer plays 7.8 hours of video games from their smartphone. Nielsen said that iPhone owners spend an average of 14.7 hours playing games on their devices.

Meanwhile, Nintendo is having some trouble selling its latest portable, the 3DS. That device, which allows users to play games in 3D without the need for special glasses, has been dogged by a meager game library and a requirement for gamers to have the right viewing angle in order to experience the 3D. And at $250, some have been turned away by the platform's price.

Nintendo chief Satoru Iwata acknowledged the device's shortcomings during a 2011 financial results briefing earlier this year, saying that the "value of 3D images without the need for special glasses is hard to be understood through the existing media." He went on to tell investors that "not that many people believe 'now is the time to buy [the 3DS].'"

During a question-and-answer session with shareholders yesterday, Iwata took aim at smartphones, saying that based on his company's research, people are just as "active" playing titles on the Nintendo DS as they are on the iPhone. And as far as he is concerned, Nintendo isn't suffering due to mobile games or social titles being played on Facebook.

"In summary, I would like you to understand that, so far, consumers have not stopped playing with Nintendo DS because they are using these [mobile] services or playing social games," he said.