back to article Apple passes Nokia, scares Nintendo

Apple has passed Nokia to become the world's most profitable phone maker, and prompted Nintendo's president to note that if his company can't differentiate its games from those on the iPhone, "then our future is dark." Cupertino's multi-pronged strategy to put an iPhone into the pocket of every smartphoner, mobile gamer, and …


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  1. Aaron Em


    An iPhone has exactly one button, and it's hardware-bound. When Microsoft comes out with a multitouch XBox 360 controller, I'll believe that console-type games without buttons are a plausible idea; until then, there's still going to be reasons -- at least six of them, if you don't count the D-pad -- to buy a DS instead of an iPhone.

  2. Anonymous Coward


    Nokia making less money overall or just "less money on smartphones" ?

    If less money overall, I'm amazed because the volumes are so different.

    The Nintendo DS has dual screen controls. There is no Brain Training on the iPhone and Mario Kart without a physical button would be unthinkable. That said, when games are £5 compared to £25 limitations can be tolerated.

  3. Iamfanboy

    on the other hand...'s not so much hardware that draws gaming dollars; it's software. The PS3 is technically superior to the 360 and the Wii (Yes, controller revolutionary, I know - the hardware is barely more powerful than a PS2, if that). HOWEVER, the PS3 has very little software to drive sales - what was the last 'must-have' game for the PS3 that was exclusive? Metal Gear Solid 4, last year? And that game was CRAP. The 360 is managing to promote some decent exclusive properties, as well as sharing PS3 titles with slight reduction in graphics, but it's Nintendo that has powerful IPs which kept it afloat during their Gamecube days, and will surely drive profitability for the near future.

    What Nintendo should REALLY be worried about is the low bar of entry into programming games for the iPhone versus programming for Wiiware or the DSi Store - innovators are oftentimes those without much cash, and with a few killer games the iPhone could grow in popularity...

    Hm. Almost makes me want to convince my friend to start programming our games for the iPhone platform instead.

  4. Ben Tasker Silver badge

    Not quite

    Cupertino's multi-pronged strategy to put an iPhone into the pocket of every smartphoner, mobile gamer, and on-the-go web surfer is working.

    I fit into all three of those categories, and I don't have (or want) an iPhone. I'd prefer something I have control over, rather than letting Apple decide everything for me (I know you can jailbreak, but you shouldn't have to!).

    There's not that much meets my needs at the moment, but there's a fair few that meet it better than that heap of shit.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    I utterly respect Miyamoto for this

    What a perfect leader. He is completely aware of his consumer-base and appreciates they are of free will. He shows complete respect for his competitors. He absolutely won me over here. I want to be giving my money to a company like that.

    What a leader.

  6. Daniel B.
    Thumb Down

    Yeah, right.

    Of course Apple has passed Nokia. An iPhone is much more expensive than your standard Nokia handset, especially the cheap ones which are Nokia's strong product. As the article pointed out, it isn't winning Nokia on number of mobiles, but on gross sales.

    I doubt Nintendo has any worries from the iPhone; real gamers will stick to the DS or the PSP, and as other commenters have pointed out, Mario, Resident Evil and similar games are unthinkable without real buttons. In fact, I'd rather play on an N-Gage ;)

  7. Sarah Baucom

    Re: Yeah, right

    Number of units aren't as important as profits to a business. I doubt Boeing or Airbus board meetings go anything like, "you know, we make $3 billion in profit a year, but we're only delivering 300 units. If we got out of the jumbo jet business and started selling RC planes, we might only make a million in profit, but we'll have might higher unit sales."

    The argument about "real gamers" sounds a lot like the argument Sony and MS fans were saying about the Wii - "real gamers won't care about a gimmicky controller. It can't even do 1080p and doesn't have a hard drive." Who's leading the console wars though? The console that "real gamers" didn't want. People often forget that not everyone is the same type of gamer. Not everyone who plays games even considers themselves to be gamers. Most iPhone games are played as a diversion, rather than a hobby. While no one is going to be comparing a PSP or DS to an iPhone when they want a gaming system, lots of people will get an iPhone or iPod Touch for its versatility, and then not see the need to get a portable gaming system. That's Nintendo's real threat.

  8. jubtastic1

    Apple will snatch defeat from the jaws of victory

    If Apple put sticks and buttons on the iPod Touch then the PSP & DS would be completely screwed, but they won't so they aren't.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    @Sarah Baucom

    Yeah - that is basically the camp I am in. I wanted a MP3 player for my music - and got a 32 GB iPod Touch this summer after looking around. (My first MP3 player!) Then I downloaded 1 (free) game as a diversion while in Korea for a week. I now have about 20 games - most paid for. If the iPhone was not just on ATT, I think I would get one. The interface is slick and it is very easy to use.

  10. Steve McPolin Bronze badge


    After finishing a plate of kaalikääryleet, Jobs burped, turned to his partner and said, 'I think we should try Japanese tomorrow'. The gentleman from Sweden appeared somewhat relieved, but the Finnish fellow just started at the bottom of his glass.

  11. mike panero


    Perhaps Nokia & Nintendo should make a phone thing together, covered in D-pads, with a large screen Im sure the all important gamers market would be theirs (ha ha)

    Thinking of writing a game for the iPhone? Might I suggest a clone of Civilization might not be so good as some brain dead shoot'em up which last 5 minutes, but something like WoW with an online subscription model, now that could be your second home in the Caribbean, I don't know Milking Cows, planting radishes, that sort of shit

    Secret penis touch anyone?

  12. David Webb
    Gates Halo

    Apples vs Pears?

    Apples revenue in 2008 = $32.48 billion

    Nokias revenue in 2008 = €50.722 billion ($75 billion)

    Microsofts revenus in 2008 = $58.437 billion

    Apples net income = $4.83 billion

    Nokias net income = €3.988 billion ($5.9 billion)

    Microsoft's net income = $14.569 billion

    Nokia as a phone company generates more revenue than Apple does in *all* its ventures, Mac, iPod, iPhone, whatever and its net income is only marginally higher than Apple (figures are from 2008). So unless 100% of apples net income comes just from iPhones, then the article is misleading. Bear in mind that Nokia spends more on R&D every year than apple and employs 4 times the number of people.

    So there we have it, Microsoft wins with its Windows mobile.

  13. Neoc

    Anyone notice?

    Anyone else notice that one of the "Read more" tags for this article is "ninendo"?

  14. Jason Hall

    @David Webb

    It's the amount of *profit* that's the important part though, not just the total amount.

    And Apple is severely reducing it's profits/total at the moment in my opinion since the entry point for their phone is so high. I know at least 10 people (number pulled from my bum) who would buy an iphone tomorrow if the price dropped.

    It's pretty obvious (to me) that:

    A PSP/DS is a much 'better' games machine.

    A Nokia is a 'better' phone.

    An iphone is still too expensive.

    As a multi-function device (web/email/games/etc) the apple choices are almost perfect.

    Or you could try an android/symbian thing. I have and hated it.

    Either way - it's a great time to be a gadget freak, since there are soooo many different models around at the moment. Just think of all the brilliant toys that will be available in second-hand shops next year (when current contracts finish).

  15. ShaggyDoggy

    One device, multiple battles

    I read that as "One device, multiple batteries"

    for obvious reasons

  16. magnetik

    @Ben Tasker

    "I'd prefer something I have control over, rather than letting Apple decide everything for me"

    I suppose you have "control" over your PSP and Nintendo DS?

    "I know you can jailbreak, but you shouldn't have to!"

    Right, like you can chip a PlayStation or XBox but "shouldn't have to"

    Just because something doesn't do exactly what *you* want it to doesn't make it a "heap of shit".

  17. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    iPhone minus the phone

    Why don't Apple just release an iPhone without the features of a phone?!?! Honestly, they'd make a killing! It could even include WiFi so you could connect to the internet without using 3G... and therefore be able to use the appstore to buy games.

    Steve Jobs should be replaced by me, and that company would finally make an impact instead of languishing at the bottom end of every market in which they are involved. And I have all my own organs.

  19. JP Sistenich

    @ AC 10:34 "minus the phone"

    Er... Oh, what the hell, I'll bite: iTouch?

    I don't have an iPhone, but I know playing games on my iPod drains the battery life like no tomorrow. There's a huge difference between drining the battery dead on a pure gaming & music device, and killing your PHONE to while the time away. Until that's sorted, the iPhone won't be a real challenger to portable gaming as the game-time is much more limited.

  20. Def Silver badge

    Re: iPhone minus the phone

    Ok, so I'm assuming that was sarcasm, but just on the off chance it wasn't, what do you think the iPod Touch is?

  21. Anonymous Coward

    iPhone without the phone

    It's called an iPod touch... seriously look it up LOL

  22. Gilbo
    Thumb Up

    @JP Sistenich

    You're spot on there, mate. Doing anything other than listening to music on an iPhone / Touch kills the battery in record time and then gives you 6-7 pop up warnings each and every time the battery's capacity fluctuates past 20%. The DS meanwhile seems to run forever...

    And playing any moderately touchy game on the iPhone just ends up rubbing the oils out of the end of your fingertips making the screen increasingly difficult to slide your fingers across... so then you have to start alternating fingers. And unless you've got fingers the size of toothpicks there's just no way you can get close to the fidelity of a stylus for accurate gaming.

    No, the only thing Nintendo should be worried about is the ridiculous price of their DS games cos in that respect the app store blows them out of the water. It still amazes me that a 32MB DS game can go for £25 when collosal PC titles encompassing massive development costs go for £35.

  23. David Webb
    Jobs Horns

    @Jason Hall

    I tend to agree, as a multi-function device (phone/browser/pda) the iPhone is reasonable, though as a pda it is slightly sub-par (having to use a scroll wheel to select date/time for an entry? what where they thinking from a design point of view?), but its reasonable for the Western market.

    The Japanese however are loyal to the point of obsession. If they get wind that Apple are gunning for Nintendo in a fight in Japan, the iPhone sales in Japan will drop like a brick whilst Nintendo sales will, well, I'd say rocket but they are already massive over there.

    I don't think Nintendo nor Sony will be worrying at all about the iPhone in the gamer market, simply because the choice of games they offer are different in many ways to the games that the iPhone have. Sony/Nintendo and to an extent Microsoft can (and do) pull the "exclusive" card, Xbox has Halo, Sony has Tekken/Gran Turismo, Nintendo has Mario/Zelda, the iPhone has fart applications.

    However, the iPhone is already old hat, the OS hasn't really changed in 2 years, just added more apps to it, and a compass. If you look at version 1.4 of the iPhone OS you won't see many changes between that and 3.1.2, just hardware upgrades, this is allowing other phone companies to catch up and over-take Apple on the UI front, the phone I'm most looking forward to is the new Nokia with that Linux os that I can't remember, looks fantastic.

    On the other hand, Apple are locking people in to their "way of life", all the apps downloaded, all the music downloaded all to the Apple device, if you want to keep them there is only one upgrade path, another Apple device, where you get more apps and music so get further locked down into the Apple way of thinking, either that or turn off the phone part (or shove in a PAYG sim) and use the iPhone as an iPod touch.

    Now, I actually own an iPhone and I generally hate the device, I can't see what the fuss is about, its unlocked and jailbroken running on vodaphone so I get to choose my Apps, but nothing about the phone has made be go "wow", well, except "wow, my hands are getting warm from the heat this thing generates".

    Nokia won't be looking at Apple as a threat, in the phone market they are selling small amounts of mobile phones, in the game market the iPhone can't compete with a dedicated game device, if they could then you can bet your bottom dollar that the next PSP to come out will have a built in mobile phone, touch screen, buttons (important for games) and exclusive top-tier games, as well as all the lovely hi-tech phone wizardry that the Japanese expect from their mobile phones.

  24. K0de

    @David Webb

    The Nokia you are thinking of is the n900 with the Maemo platform, its supposed to be released in the UK on the 16th of Nov.

    I think its going to be my next phone, i do love the look of it, but the lack of turn by turn voice navigation is a bit of a disappointment.

  25. tiggertaebo

    Not as straightforward as it looks

    Apple have done very well in the last couple of years - they have come from nothing in the phone sector to substantial profitability in a very small space of time. However if you are trying to look at the Apple phones dept in isolation then the profit figures are a bit misleading - the basic design procedure of the iPhone was to take an iPod Touch and shoehorn some old phone tech in (which, depending on who you believe they may not have properly paid for :D ). This would have been very cheap to do and with the handset being retailed at the high-end of the market it would have been very profitable on a per-handset basis. Later revisions of the hardware haven't hugely strayed from this tactic, the phone hardware is all being introduced that little bit behind the rest and its therefore coming to Apple when its already established and probably cheaper to implement.

    Oh and before the fanboys start screaming I'm not knocking Apple here - I might not be an iPhone fan but the way they have approached it has been very successfully making them money so i tip my hat to them! The mobile phone business isn't about making the best handsets - its about making the most profit and on that score Apple win 2009

    Nokia have done ok considering the financial disaster that was the Full Fat N97, to have a flagship phone that has by their standards flopped completely is surely going to have been a big blow to profitability. R&D for it must have been substantially expensive (even if QC wasn't :D ), and they have ended up costing themselves a lot both in lost sales and all the remedial work carried out to the phone.

    Looking to the future however the Mini appears to be a very good bit of kit and anecdotal evidence suggests its selling OK, alot of the development cost for the Mini has been and gone with the N97 debacle and the phone still retails for a healthy amount. Couple this with the N900 being due any minute as well and I think 2010 may well be a better year for them.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @David Webb and similar

    I fear you miss the point in exactly the same way that the point is missed in the Xbox&PS3 vs Wii discussions.

    The point is not that the iPhone will compete with the DS and PSP as a serious handheld gaming machine.It won't. gamers will buy a gaming machine.

    However what will happen is that casual gamers with an iPhone will be far less likely to buy a DS or PSP to meet their casual gaming needs. This may well result in some loss of potential revenue to Sony/Nintendo but mostly the impact will be in the analyst's figures - they will compare iPhone game sales to DS/PSP game sales, massage the figures and then scare the stock markets into reducing the share prices of Sony/Nintendo etc.

    In exactly the same way that virtually no-one with a Wii has bought it instead of buying a PS3/Xbox but still the market analysts believe that the Wii is winning the console wars. Which is like saying that because Tesco sell 2 million tons* of potatoes a year and Ferrari only sell 10,000* cars then potatoes are winning the supercar wars.

    *I made these figures up. I couldn't be bothered Googling them cos it don't matter. I don't care what teh figures really are, really I don't.

  27. Eddy Ito


    Crikey, I knew it was overpriced!

  28. Gis Bun
    Thumb Down

    Ain't surprised

    Unlike everyone else, Apple gets a huge cut on all the data pland sold by those who provide air time to iPhones. On top of that by someone's calculation a year or so ago, for $10 of an iPhone sold, Apple kept $4 as profit [rest making it, etc.].

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