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Yes, Nintendo is trying to drive players to its consoles with smartphone apps

"... our primary objective is to encourage smart device users to be interested in and to play with our dedicated video game systems, and we are focused on this goal." - Shigeru Miyamoto
"While it is important for us to earn profits from our smart device business alone, our primary objective is to encourage smart device users to be interested in and to play with our dedicated video game systems, and we are focused on this goal."

- Shigeru Miyamoto

Nintendo has before said that it hopes to get players interested in its console games with its new smartphone apps -- but never so explicitly as Shigeru Miyamoto did in the company's latest investor Q&A.

It's a confusing signal -- but Miyamoto also leaves the door open to mobile games becoming the "next big thing" for Nintendo. He draws an analogy to its early days as a video game company:

"Just when Nintendo started to earn stable revenue with the hit of Game & Watch, our sales doubled with the Donkey Kong arcade game. And when we were able to earn rather stable profits from the arcade game business, because our Famicom (known as Nintendo Entertainment System overseas) business started to get on track, we ceased our arcade business and started focusing on the home entertainment business."

The point here? The company has been through rapid transitions before. The upshot? "And now, we see that our smart device business has the potential to become this next big thing," he admits.

At the very least, Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima sees mobile as a potential inroad to hundreds of millions of users for the company. Whether any of them will convert to console game players, however, is a very open question.

The missing part of the equation is likely that the company isn't necessarily talking about the flagging Wii U or even the much more successful 3DS; the new Nintendo NX console, due to be unveiled (and possibly shipped) next year, is set to "grow into our core business after its launch," Kimishima said, in the same Q&A.

For more on Nintendo's mobile plans, we have more from the investor Q&A; if you want to know more about Miitomo, the company's first smartphone app, read my analysis.

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