Smartphones, smartphones everywhere. Cell phones and gaming were once separated by a vast chasm, at least in North America. Phones were for business, games for pleasure.
Now we’re constantly plugged into the Internet and slowly losing our ability to just tune out and wind down. It’s no wonder Sony and Microsoft are poised to make a grab for Apple’s territory with the PlayStation Phone and Windows Phone 7: We’re obsessed with flipping between communication, music, and gaming.
Nintendo, however, has stood firm against the siren song of smartphone tech. It’s confirmed repeatedly that it has no interest in entering the smartphone market.
“Certainly we are adding more and more elements to fill out the experience and take away more and more time from competing devices,” Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime told Forbes in an interview in late October. “But our handhelds will always lead with games.”
“3DS content will be dramatically unique to our platform, because I don’t think a smartphone manufacturer will invest to put a 3D parallax screen in their device and not have the content to bring it to life.”
Reggie himself has admitted that Apple’s iPhone and iPad are the main threats against the Nintendo 3DS’s prosperity. Knowing this, Doesn’t it make sense for Nintendo to adopt one of Apple’s most notable hardware features: Cellular connectivity?
Offhand, it makes sense. If you have a competitor, offer what that competitor offers, and more. But Reggie’s interview with Forbes is a strong reminder of what Nintendo does best: Games. The Nintendo 3DS is a gaming system first and foremost. Sure, it’ll have some cool features, like a 3D camera and the ability to play some movies, but Nintendo’s main focus for the 3DS right now is its games.
It’s a smart move, too. Not everything needs a phone attached to it, especially in a market that’s already over-crowded. Sony and Microsoft can succeed with the PlayStation Phone and the Windows Phone 7, but both companies have a bitter battle ahead. The PlayStation is already associated with games, and will need to build up a phone brand. And Steve Jobs isn’t kept up at night by nightmares about Zune.
There’s also still a sizable gaming population that, to put it bluntly, hates the telephone in all its iterations. These are the ladies and gentlemen who know the sweet silence of uninterrupted gaming–something the Nintendo 3DS will assuredly excel in.
Gaming is supposed to relax us, help us shut out the world’s stresses for a small amount of time. The Nintendo 3DS will help us retreat into a quieter world, where we simply run across Hyrule on Epona and drink in Koji Kondo’s score without a ringtune or MP3 blaring at us. And when we feel the need to return to the louder, busier style of gaming that smartphones offer, we have lots of options to choose from.