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Ness Labs: Make the most of your mind
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A Summary of
Nintendo: Infinite Games
In 1998, Nintendo Karuta was founded by Fusajiro Yamauchi to sell handcrafted playing cards.
Because of yakuza casinos and a partnership with Japan Tobacco, Nintendo became successful and widely available.
After a period under Yamauchi’s son-in-law Sekiryo Kaneda, the company was passed to Sekiryo’s grandson, Hiroshi.
The Era of Hiroshi
Hiroshi launched an era of rapid expansion and radical experiment at Nintendo.
After taking the company public, Hiroshi realized that Nintendo was stuck in a small market.
Hiroshi launched a series of initiatives to diversify revenue, including a taxi company, an instant rice product, and a chain of love hotels, which all failed.
Gunpei’s Hit Parade
After discovering Gunpei Yoko playing with one of his inventions on the Nintendo floor, Hiroshi released it as a product and it was massively successful.
With Gunpei, Nintendo produced a string of playful, creative toys that pushed the trajectory of the company toward toy-making.
Gunpei also helped Nintendo break into electronics with his invention of the “Game & Watch” and work on early video games.
Gunpei believed that ingenuity did not necessarily require novel technology but rather mental dexterity––“lateral thinking with withered technology”.
Hiroshi’s willingness to take risks and fail is absent in Nintendo today.
Hiroshi’s successor, Satoru Iwata, was vehemently opposed to Nintendo expanding to the mobile market.
Satoru’s dogma: the best of Nintendo could only be experienced via the company’s consoles.
This was contrary to Hiroshi, who believed in allowing as many people to play as possible.
The Blindness of Prosperity
Nintendo experienced unpredictable success with the world in lockdown, with sales of Animal Crossing and Switches increasing.
This prosperity may bring a certain blindness to the company’s future.
Despite the size of the mobile market, Nintendo is still weak in mobile and trails behind its competitors.
Nintendo has also failed to capitalize on streaming or its powerful IP.
Pokémon GO was a smash hit that has gotten more popular with the pandemic, and Nintendo should invest in mobile development.
With Nintendo’s strong IP, theme parks are a profitable consideration.
Nintendo should also embrace digital media and build a universe of characters in film and TV.
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