Nintendo expects a gaming war with Apple

It wasn’t long ago Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata said he wasn’t worried about Apple’s efforts in the mobile space, but the Japanese game developer now believes Apple could become its biggest competitor.

Apple has had great success selling its iPhone and iPad tablet devices, with the iPod Touch also able to play video games.  During Q1 2010, Apple has sold 8.75 million iPhones, with 1 million iPads sold during April — a significant figure if more owners begin to buy titles.

Image courtesy of Kotaku

It’s interesting to hear Nintendo now considers Apple a more serious threat at a time when mobile and casual gaming are picking up steam.  I think anyone who is developing mobile games — or interested in portable gaming hardware — needs to pay attention to Apple.

I still think it’s a bit too early for Nintendo to think of Apple as a direct threat, especially since most mobile games are still rather basic.  However, the iPhone is expected to be a multi-billion market in the next five years, and will cut into the industry led by Nintendo and Sony.

The Nintendo DS has almost 4,500 game titles, but there are more than 50,000 games available through the Apple App Store.  Despite the difference, casual gaming is extremely popular on the iPhone and other smartphones, while the DS has more in-depth video games that cater to more seasoned gamers.

Ironically, Sony Australia managing director Michael Ephraim said Apple is getting a bit more arrogant in its business practices — even as Sony loses a bit of cockiness due to increased pressure from sliding sales.

“I think we can name a company that is a fruit that is in the news a lot about their arrogance,” Ephraim recently said.  “I think they have taken the mantle from us, if we were ever arrogant!”