What if: Nintendo Made a Phone?
"Preposterous", you say. "Nintendo will never make a phone". That's what we said about Apple.
Forbes, not exactly the foremost authority on video games, recently published an article stating that Apple's iPhone could kill Nintendo's DS. At first, it seemed like a ridiculous theory. Not even the mighty Apple, with its sexy do-it-all phone, could topple the Pokemon empire, despite the iPhone's touch screen and new low $199 price (as of July 11), or could it? With Super Monkey Ball and Spore on the way, as well as a fan base as loyal as Nintendo's, Apple could make headway if it managed to secure some killer apps. What would Mario and Co. do if it lost market share to an unlikely rival? Simple, build a phone.
It sounds ridiculous. Nintendo doesn't have any experience designing cell phones, let alone an advanced smart phone capable of dethroning Apple's heavenly design. It doesn't have a carrier, either. Besides, would parents buy a "Nintenphone" for their kids? What about contracts? Data plans? Would it kill the DS? It doesn't seem like a smart move.
Unless, of course, the company created a sexy device with integrated DS technology. It's not a new system, but rather a DS with a phone, blended together into one eye-popping package. Here's how they could do it:
1. New device, same old DS: DS, with its limited graphics technology, has soundly beaten Sony's more powerful PSP, and we see no reason to make this DS 2. Instead, make the phone a touch screen device with DS innards. Nintendo could easily put a dual screen onto the front or inside of the phone and include a stylus that slides into the device. This way, users can play their DS games (there's a cartridge slot in the back) and navigate the phone's menus with either their finger or stylus.
2. Don't skimp on features: Phones have speakers for, well, speaker phone, so Nintendo should keep the DS microphone, which now has even more uses. As for triggers, the company can toss them in if the design resembles something like the LG Voyager, which opens to reveal a keypad. Nintendo's phone could open to reveal, GASP, two screens.
3. Do something useful with Picto-Chat, aside from drawing genitals: Nintendo should find a way to make Picto-Chat its text messaging service. Now you can draw penises and send them to your friends and enemies. Brilliant.
4. Make it Wi-Fi enabled: Since the phone connects to a network, this means you can play Mario Kart DS on it, among other games.
5. Make it as indestructible as possible: Bottom line, lots of kids will want this phone, so there's no need to make it fragile. It needs to be tough, and a familiar clamshell design would protect its hidden screens. This puppy needs to survive explosions.
6. Make it cheap: Sell the phone for less than $140 and keep the contracts honest. Again, kids will use it, so don't charge their parents $100 for unlimited data and 1400 text messages. Perhaps pay as you go is more economical.
Regardless whether you agree with us or not, Nintendo has more experience in this than the competition probably thinks. Over the years, DS has played host to text chat, an Internet browser and microphone testing, all features of modern day phones. Others, such as MP3 support, wouldn't be difficult, or even storage, for that matter. Either you'd shove songs onto a blank DS cart (we're sure SanDisk could up the space on those suckers) or use the internal hard drive, or both. Now go tell Apple that Nintendo's new phone plays Pokemon Diamond, and suddenly, iPhone isn't as invincible as it seemed.