Nintendo's Iwata dismisses iPad

Mario Factory president says Apple's latest device offered "no surprises"; marginalizes HD gaming; rules out HD Wii, motion-sensing DS.


James Cameron's Avatar: The Game

On Wednesday, Apple took the lid off its heavily rumored iPad tablet computer. The versatile touch-screen-enabled device is similar to the iPhone and iPod Touch, providing users with Internet access, as well as access to apps and the iTunes store. Notably, Apple confirmed that all App Store programs, including games, can run on the iPad unmodified, with EA and Gameloft headlining support for the device.

Iwata finds little of interest from Apple's new iPad.
Iwata finds little of interest from Apple's new iPad.

Therefore, Apple's latest device is just one more way in which it is challenging current handheld gaming market leader Nintendo. Though, for its part, Nintendo is unimpressed with Apple's newcomer. Speaking to the New York Times, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata marginalized the iPad as "a bigger iPod Touch," saying of the device that ''there were no surprises for me."

Powered by a 1GHz processor that places the CPU, graphics, and memory all on a single chip, the iPad has Bluetooth and a compass built in. It will not, however, include a camera as MacBooks and iPhones do, nor will it support Adobe Flash. Also, the iPad will use the 802.11n wireless standard and will have several models with 3G mobile-network data connectivity.

Ironically, Nintendo just released an upsized version of a previously released device in Japan: The DSi LL. Fundamentally a larger version of the camera-equipped DSi, which debuted in Japan in November 2008, the DSi LL has sold some 700,000 units in the island nation through the end of 2009. It will be released in the West as the DSi XL this spring.

The NYT reports that Iwata also dismissed the prospect of 3D functionality in games. Referencing James Cameron's $1 billion blockbuster Avatar and its underperforming game tie-in from Ubisoft, Iwata said that he doesn't expect 3D gaming to be particularly influential. ''I have doubts whether people will be wearing glasses to play games at home. How is that going to look to other people?" Iwata said.

Beyond Ubisoft's venture into 3D gaming, Nintendo rival Sony has made a significant push into depth-of-field gaming. In November, Sony announced plans to integrate stereoscopic 3D technology into all PlayStation 3s via firmware update beginning this year.

Echoing sentiments expressed by Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime earlier this month, Iwata also dismissed speculation that Nintendo is prepping an upgraded Wii with high-definition graphical capabilities. The company president was equally mum on the prospect of a motion-sensing upgrade to the DS, which has now sold more than 125 million units through the end of 2009.

While Iwata's comments seem definitive, the excutive has a history of dismissing a particular technology at the same time Nintendo is actively developing it. In 2004, Iwata defended the GameCube's anemic online support by declaring that "customers do not want online games." Less than a year later, Nintendo announced that the Wii--then called the Revolution--and the DS would both feature built-in online connectivity.

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