Apple and Google Are Killing Nintendo's 3DS

Nintendo's handheld video game console is doing poorly, as gamers turn to mobile devices running software from Apple and Google.

Jan 18, 2014 at 2:30PM

Nintendo's (NASDAQOTH:NTDOY) announcement on Friday confirmed what many already suspected: Its living-room console, the Wii U, has been a colossal failure. To anyone who had been following the industry, this announcement was hardly shocking -- sales of the Wii U had been terrible for most of 2013.

But what's far more surprising, and ultimately much more important, is that Nintendo's handheld gaming business is also in decline. Friday's release suggests that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google's (NASDAQ:GOOGL) mobile devices are finally taking a toll on Nintendo's 3DS.

Nintendo cuts 3DS projections
Alongside a 69% reduction in its Wii U sales forecast, Nintendo also slashed its projections for the 3DS. The Japanese gaming giant now expects to sell just 13.5 million handheld consoles -- it was forecasting sales of 18 million.

If Nintendo's projections prove accurate, then it will have sold fewer 3DS consoles in 2013 than it did in 2012. This is a troubling trend, as it suggests that the 3DS may have hit its peak popularity in only its second year. For comparison, Nintendo's prior handheld console, the DS, didn't see its sales peak until 2009, its fourth full year on the market. Nintendo expects to sell more 3DS games this year than last, but there, too, it cut its projections -- from 80 million down to 66 million.

What's even worse is that 2013 should've been a tremendous year for the 3DS. The console had a strong lineup of games, including Pokemon X/Y and The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (the later of which GameSpot dubbed the "Game of the Year" for 2013 -- an award that is virtually never given to a game released for a handheld console), while Nintendo released a new, more affordable version of the 3Ds -- the 2DS -- in the second half the year.

2013 was a great year for mobile gaming
So why is Nintendo's handheld business shrinking? It might have something to do with Apple and Google.

Mobile gaming has been around for some time, but 2013 was a banner year for the industry. Earlier this month, Apple announced that it has now paid out $15 billion to mobile developers -- and $10 billion of that came in just the last year. Exactly how much of that went to game creators is unknown, but research firm Gartner (via Forbes) estimates that about two-thirds of app-related revenue comes from games.

Apple's iOS 7, released in September, added support for controllers with physical joysticks and buttons -- iPhone gamers and game creators are no longer limited by the touchscreen. Google's Android, meanwhile, has supported controllers for years, but Google made several game-related updates to Android in 2013. The new "Google Play Games" allows for, among other things, easier online multiplayer.

Mobile gaming is only going to improve
Of course, there are no mobile games nearly as good as Nintendo's Legend of Zelda, but that won't always be the case. With tablet and smartphone adoption accelerating worldwide, mobile gaming should only continue to improve.

Earlier this month, at the Consumer Electronics Show, NVIDIA showed off a new mobile chip, the Tegra K1, capable of outputting graphics on par with the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Meanwhile, Samsung is starting to push gaming as a way to sell its TV and tablets, and Sony's newly announced streaming video game service will, when it launches later this year, allow mobile devices to play old PlayStation games.

Although Nintendo continues to make games of unmatched quality, the days of its dedicated gaming hardware seem to be coming to an end. As Apple and Google slowly killed the market for digital cameras, so now do they seem to be doing the same to Nintendo's 3DS.

Learn how to start investing today
Millions of Americans have waited on the sidelines since the market meltdown in 2008 and 2009, too scared to invest and put their money at further risk. Yet those who've stayed out of the market have missed out on huge gains and put their financial futures in jeopardy. In our brand-new special report, "Your Essential Guide to Start Investing Today," The Motley Fool's personal finance experts show you why investing is so important and what you need to do to get started. Click here to get your copy today -- it's absolutely free.

Sam Mattera has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Apple and Google. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

1 Key Step to Get Rich

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better. Whether that’s helping people overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we can help.

Feb 1, 2016 at 4:54PM

To be perfectly clear, this is not a get-rich action that my Foolish colleagues and I came up with. But we wouldn't argue with the approach.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich" rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

"The Motley Fool aims to build a strong investment community, which it does by providing a variety of resources: the website, books, a newspaper column, a radio [show], and [newsletters]," wrote (the clearly insightful and talented) money reporter Kathleen Elkins. "This site has something for every type of investor, from basic lessons for beginners to investing commentary on mutual funds, stock sectors, and value for the more advanced."

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better, so it's nice to receive that kind of recognition. It lets us know we're doing our job.

Whether that's helping the entirely uninitiated overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we want to provide our readers with a boost to the next step on their journey to financial independence.

Articles and beyond

As Business Insider wrote, there are a number of resources available from the Fool for investors of all levels and styles.

In addition to the dozens of free articles we publish every day on our website, I want to highlight two must-see spots in your tour of

For the beginning investor

Investing can seem like a Big Deal to those who have yet to buy their first stock. Many investment professionals try to infuse the conversation with jargon in order to deter individual investors from tackling it on their own (and to justify their often sky-high fees).

But the individual investor can beat the market. The real secret to investing is that it doesn't take tons of money, endless hours, or super-secret formulas that only experts possess.

That's why we created a best-selling guide that walks investors-to-be through everything they need to know to get started. And because we're so dedicated to our mission, we've made that available for free.

If you're just starting out (or want to help out someone who is), go to, drop in your email address, and you'll be able to instantly access the quick-read guide ... for free.

For the listener

Whether it's on the stationary exercise bike or during my daily commute, I spend a lot of time going nowhere. But I've found a way to make that time benefit me.

The Motley Fool offers five podcasts that I refer to as "binge-worthy financial information."

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. It's also featured on several dozen radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable ... and I don't say that simply because the hosts all sit within a Nerf-gun shot of my desk. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers contain timeless advice, so you might want to go back to the beginning with those. The other three take their cues from the market, so you'll want to listen to the most recent first. All are available at

But wait, there's more

The book and the podcasts – both free ... both awesome – also come with an ongoing benefit. If you download the book, or if you enter your email address in the magical box at the podcasts page, you'll get ongoing market coverage sent straight to your inbox.

Investor Insights is valuable and enjoyable coverage of everything from macroeconomic events to investing strategies to our analyst's travels around the world to find the next big thing. Also free.

Get the book. Listen to a podcast. Sign up for Investor Insights. I'm not saying that any of those things will make you rich ... but Business Insider seems to think so.

Compare Brokers