Against odds, Nintendo turned a profit in the September quarter. It turns out that Mario Kart 8 was successful enough to give the Wii U home console enough of a sales bump to help Nintendo to eke out a $86 million profit during the autumn period. Nintendo also repeated its vow to achieve profitability for the full fiscal year and after its autumn surprise, this suddenly seems achievable.
Nintendo cited both Europe and North America as performing particularly well. Looking at the coming winter, Nintendo has high hopes about new Pokemon titles, which may revive the seriously weak 3DS portable console sales. The 3DS’s sales volume tanked to just 1.27 million units this autumn quarter, roughly half of the level of the September quarter of 2013.
But in addition to Mario Kart and Pokemon sequels, Nintendo is also doing some really weird and potentially fascinating moves to rekindle consumer interest. In Japan, a device that’s simply called the New 3DS sold a stunningly strong 234,000 units during its first week of availability. This is a highly unusual revision of the existing portable console — the New version adds an extra thumbstick and better 3D functionality to the improve on the old 3DS device. Portable console revisions are usually a lot more marginal, so this move just might give the 3DS a second wind.
Even more unusual is the new Nintendo initiative of creating a bed-side sleep sensor called The Quality of Life Sensor. It will help consumers track their sleep patterns…. and maybe incorporate some of that info into Nintendo games? For more than a year, European app developer circles have been buzzing about a Nintendo plan to develop educational apps for the Android platform as a way to dip a toe into the massive and rapidly expanding mobile app market.
Extra thumb-tacks in consoles, bed-side monitors, a possible educational Android app program… the common feature for Nintendo’s new moves is that they seem designed to stave off the inevitable. Nintendo really, really does not want to enter the mobile app market with translations of its mainstream franchises. It seems to be doing anything it can to delay the day when it finally has to transition Metroid, Zelda, Mario and others to the iOS ecosystem.
Looks like Nintendo has managed to buy itself a little more time.