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Iwata doubts impact of Apple TV on consoles

Long consumer life-cycle on televisions will slow market penetration of rumoured Apple hardware

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata doesn't believe that Apple's rumoured TV will have a major impact on the popularity of consoles.

Speaking to analysts at E3, Iwata addressed the challenge an Apple TV - which would seamlessly link to Apple's mobile and tablet devices - could present to a console with the specifications of the Wii U

"The Wii U is the only platform that has a second screen that is seamlessly and completely integrated with a large TV screen, and this feature characterizes the Wii U well," he said. "Our proposal could create a unique blue ocean.

Iwata suggested that the perceived threat of the Apple TV is based on how quickly mobile and tablet technology has progressed, but consumer habits around buying televisions are different.

"However fantastic the new television is to be launched, it's not as likely that people will immediately upgrade a television necessarily because of that longer cycle"

Satoru Iwata, Nintendo

"We see in the mobile phone market that typically there is a cycle of people replacing their phones roughly every couple of years so a new device like a smartphone penetrates the market quickly," he continued. "But when it comes to the television market, the cycle for television replacement is actually much longer; say a five-year cycle at the shortest, to a seven or even ten-year cycle at the longest.

"So, however fantastic the new television is to be launched, it's not as likely that people will immediately move to upgrade a television necessarily because of that longer cycle."

Nintendo's president also addressed Microsoft's announcement of SmartGlass and Sony's demonstration of the connectivity between the PlayStation Vita and the PlayStation 3. Iwata related the development to the way its competitors introducing motion control systems several years after the launch of the Wii.

"This time, the fact is that we've seen something of this nature come out within a one-year time frame from when we first announced the Wii U. That suggests to me that they clearly see value in what we're trying to do. I think that an approach that nobody follows is one that few people see value in."

Iwata said that Microsoft and Sony's concepts were capable only a "small facet" of what the Wii U can offer. He placed particular emphasis on the GamePad's buttons and analogue sticks, and the absence of latency in the gameplay experience.

"What you don't have on smartphones and tablets are the buttons and the control sticks that [gamers] prefer to use. Now, if they could hold a controller with two hands and hold a tablet or a smartphone with another hand, there would be no issue. Unfortunately, since it is not possible for humans to do that, you can't play a game in a way you can play with the Wii U."

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Matthew Handrahan avatar
Matthew Handrahan: Matthew Handrahan joined GamesIndustry in 2011, bringing long-form feature-writing experience to the team as well as a deep understanding of the video game development business. He previously spent more than five years at award-winning magazine gamesTM.
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