Earlier this year, Nintendo revealed that it planned to enter the health business in some fashion, keeping mum on details except to say that it would not make a wearable device.
Now president Satoru Iwata is clarifying: The Mario company isn’t leaving its troubled gaming consoles behind.
“What Nintendo will try to achieve in the next 10 years is a platform business that improves people’s QOL [quality of life] in enjoyable ways,” Iwata said in a letter to shareholders and investors. “We believe that we can capitalize the most on our strengths through a hardware-software integrated platform business, and therefore this type of dedicated video game platforms will remain our core focus.”
Iwata’s letter did not make clear what, exactly, “quality of life” means, or whether and how closely Nintendo’s new efforts in QOL would be tied to its gaming platforms. Given that wearables are currently the buzziest category in health-tech, the company is setting itself up to be either a disrupter or an outcast, depending on your level of optimism.
That reference to integrated hardware and software also serves to underscore Iwata’s longtime aversion to making games for others’ platforms — like Apple’s and Google’s. As previously noted in this space regarding the Wii U’s GamePad, Nintendo wants to be unique and different, making riskier bets in the hopes of greater rewards and a stronger brand.
“[We] will continue to provide products and services which pleasantly surprise people,” Iwata wrote in the letter. “… [W]ith a history of experiencing many failures and small successes, we managed to pioneer the home video game market.”
The question now is how Nintendo will try to be a pioneer in health tech, and what it can offer that will be a marked difference from more established players in the field. But until then, why not play some Wii Fit?