In an effort to return the Wii U to profitability, Nintendo is attempting to modify the hardware so it can run smartphone applications, inside sources have told Japan Times (via GameSpot sister site ZDNET).
Nintendo has reportedly offered "professional-use conversion software" to application developers as a means to bring their games to Wii U. These sources said Nintendo hopes smartphone software will lead to a jolt in system sales.
A Nintendo representative was not immediately available to comment.
Nintendo president Satoru Iwata last month laid out a three-pronged plan to return the Wii U to profitability and smartphone app support was not part of it. In addition, Nintendo has for a long time steered clear of smartphone games and apps.
During a recent analyst presentation, however, Iwata highlighted a new Nintendo strategy that may introduce additional digital offerings, potentially apps.
"We will not simply change our existing packaged software distribution channel. Rather, we might have many other types of business models in addition to packaged software," he said at the time. "For example, we might see more games that are similar to free-to-play games, games that cost much less or games that require a monthly subscription fee."
"Digitalization allows for greater flexibility, whereby having more ways to make payments, both software developers and consumers have more options," he added. "And Nintendo 3DS and Wii U have flexible systems to handle such trends, so it is now a question of putting these ideas into action. I can definitely say that Nintendo will make new offers that go well beyond simply replacing packaged software with digital software."
It is no secret that Wii U sales have struggled. Nintendo has sold 400,000 units worldwide this year and 3.45 million systems since launch, missing sales targets.