Years ago Nintendo sat on top of the game console world. Sega had a share of the market, but Nintendo really bowled people over with new takes on the old platformers. People were hooked.
Then along came Sony.
Before the PlayStation came out I worked at Rizzoli, a bookstore in Soho (since shuttered). With a liberal dress code I wore my Nintendo t-shirt to work one day. Right before store closing, a guy in an expensive suit and ridonkulous tan sauntered up to the register. He took one look at my shirt and pssh’d.
“They are so going down,” he said.
“Pardon me, sir?” I asked, all too accustomed to the arrogance of Soho shoppers, and wondering what beef with the world this bozo was going to take out on the minimum wage monkey.
“Nintendo will fold under Sony’s PlayStation.” His wife came up behind him and did her best to excuse her stupid husband with a “boys will be boys” smirk.
“I doubt it. Nintendo makes good games,” I said. Correct, as usual.
“I’m an SVP at SCE and I can confidently say Nintendo will be #2.”
And with that he looked down his nose and walked away from the guy who just made .0215 cents (before taxes) while ringing up his impulse-buy books.
He was right. And, as usual, so was I. PlayStation kerplowed the world and redefined gaming. They went to #1. For awhile. Now they’re #3. Such is life. I wonder where SCE SVP Man is now.
The point? Besides the historical insight into Soho shopping in 1992, I think we could be looking at a similar shift with the introduction of Windows Phone 7 Series.
It’s familiar isn’t it? The big player in the space in an upstart innovator (iPhone=Nintendo) who stole the crown from a stale gaming market (Sega=Symbian). They seem unstoppable, but what if a big player in entertainment steps in with a better gaming experience at a better price point? That could be Microsoft’s role in the upcoming shake-out. If the hype is even half right, MS is going to release their best mobile OS yet. That may mean nothing, but it may also mean they can carve a massive chunk out of the iPhone’s ridiculously large market share. I mean Apple sells 90-95% of mobile apps. On one device. Uh, there’s room for competition there.
It won’t come from Nokia. They learned their lesson. It won’t come from Google. Their attempt to get into games has been…wait, have they even tried? Nintendo could but don’t seem to want to. They’re a toy company after all.
But Microsoft…well. Microsoft has the urge, the resources, the experience and with W7 Mobile (maybe) the weapon to clear the battlefield and make us re-evaluate what we put in our pocket.
I, for one, will be checking out what they have under their raincoat at GDC. I may even miss the iPhone summit to be there. http://bit.ly/dz1j74