Playing games on a mobile phone is about as enjoyable as untangling a pair of headphones when you're stuck in the middle of a train during rush hour. The quality of titles available is very low, and today's phones simply aren't designed for fast, reliable button pressing. Don't get me wrong -- things are getting better -- but for the love of thumb-tapping, Nintendo must make a mobile phone.
Before you go stark raving bonkers screaming at your monitor, it's really not that crazy an idea. For starters, most mobile phone manufacturers -- in particular Nokia -- are taking gaming very seriously. This could dramatically affect the market, in the same way that the massive proliferation of music phones persuaded Apple to make the iPhone.
Then there are the Sony PSP phone rumours, which if true, could prove a genuine challenge to Nintendo's future portable consoles. But Nintendo has always been a proactive company, and these reasons alone aren't why I think Nintendo should make a mobile phone -- or, perhaps more feasibly, partner up with a mobile manufacturer.
The problem with teaming up with another company would be that the final product would most likely be a diluted version of what Nintendo first had in mind. It would be better for Nintendo to heavily invest in mobile and develop its own in-house team. Of course, this would be a massive financial risk, and could potentially bring the company to its knees if the 'Nintenphone' didn't live up to expectations. Too many games companies have fallen by the wayside after ill-advised hardware development.
But Nintendo has demonstrated with the DS and Wii that it understands usability and aesthetics to such an extent that any phone it would produce would not only look beautiful, but would also be extremely usable in terms of hardware and software (obviously much better than my crudely Photoshopped image).
You only have to look at the DS to realise that it already has the potential to be a PDA. At the moment you can use your DS (via an extra cartridge) to listen to music and browse the Internet over Wi-Fi using an Opera-based browser. Would it be that much of a leap to turn it into a mobile phone?
Nintendo also understands casual, time-limited gaming better than any other company. If it could continue the quality of games it has produced for the DS on to a mobile, it would easily be the best phone gaming experience ever created. And that's the point: Nintendo makes consoles and is extremely good at it, so who would you rather have making your gaming phone?
Before Apple made its music phone, many sceptics said it would be terrible, because it has no understanding of the market. And although the iPhone's not perfect, it's certainly one of the best music phones out there, which speaks volumes. No, Nintendo doesn't have any experience in manufacturing phones, but it certainly has the fanbase and cachet to extract great deals from mobile networks, as Apple did. Who's to say it couldn't do an Apple -- and create something special? -Andrew Lim