Ever since Wii U's struggles became readily apparent, gamers have tossed around the idea of Nintendo unifying its hardware efforts under a single device. This hypothetical console/portable hybrid would be able to travel with you on the go and also hook up to the TV, essentially brining all of Nintendo's software efforts under a single room.
Nintendo president and CEO Satoru Iwata addressed this possibility during its latest financial briefing, saying that the company does plan to bring unification to the Nintendo platform as a whole. "Home consoles and handheld devices will no longer be completely different, and they will become like brothers in a family of systems," he explained.
However, the doesn't mean the company won't take a page out of Apple's book and expand its platform across a host of different Nintendo-built devices that offer different form factor options to the consumer.
Still, I am not sure if the form factor (the size and configuration of the hardware) will be integrated. In contrast, the number of form factors might increase. Currently, we can only provide two form factors because if we had three or four different architectures, we would face serious shortages of software on every platform. To cite a specific case, Apple is able to release smart devices with various form factors one after another because there is one way of programming adopted by all platforms. Apple has a common platform called iOS. Another example is Android. Though there are various models, Android does not face software shortages because there is one common way of programming on the Android platform that works with various models.
The point is, Nintendo platforms should be like those two examples. Whether we will ultimately need just one device will be determined by what consumers demand in the future, and that is not something we know at the moment. However, we are hoping to change and correct the situation in which we develop games for different platforms individually and sometimes disappoint consumers with game shortages as we attempt to move from one platform to another, and we believe that we will be able to deliver tangible results in the future.
It's a lot to chew on, and since we're clearly still far off from Nintendo realizing this vision, it's too early to say exactly what Nintendo's hardware strategy will be for the next generation. What do you think the Big N should do? Is it wise to attempt to copy Apple? Is a hybrid console a valid avenue?