Could Switching to Android Save Nintendo's Console Business?

By James O Malley on at

Rumours out of Japan this morning are suggesting that Nintendo is planning to base its next home console on the Android operating system - rather than doing its own thing. This could be potentially brilliant - and save the company from Sega's fate.

Nintendo wouldn't be the first company to use Android for its own purposes. Chances are that rather than license Google's 'official' Android, it would take the open-source operating system and build its own thing, with its own app store - a bit like Amazon has done with its Kindle Fire and Fire TV. Crucially though, even if it ends up with a different badge, code written for one Android device can run on any other.

The significant advantage for Nintendo is that it could solve the problem of third party support. Whilst the Wii sold in large enough numbers to attract developers to the platform, the WiiU has been a bit of a disaster - with only Nintendo's own first party titles keeping it afloat. By adopting Android, the platform comes ready-made with thousands of Android games and other apps that can run on the hardware.

Adopting Android would also mean obvious synergies (sorry) with the company's stated aim of developing games for mobile phones - with the same Mario game working across both phone and the new console, which is codenamed "NX". It would also make sense in terms of how Nintendo positions itself towards so-called 'casual' gamers: a new Android console could conceivably run Candy Crush et al out of the box, not to mention other non-game apps - such as fitness apps, to appeal to the people who bought Wii Fit.

The other benefit for Nintendo is that the hardware that it will run on is presumably already fairly mature. Nintendo knows that it will never be able to compete with Sony and Microsoft on raw power, but if it released a lower-powered console that could play a tonne of casual Android games plus all of the Nintendo games we know and love? Try and tell me that you wouldn't buy that. [Nikkei]