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Iwata: 'It Is Vital' For Nintendo To Enter Emerging Markets

Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata says his company is struggling with how to best bring Nintendo products to developing markets, but he isn't concerned about the company having a Japanese-only board of directors.
Nintendo makes a point of trumpeting the worldwide appeal of its Wii and Nintendo DS games -- but as a company shareholder pointed out during a recent company Q&A session, the company primarily sells its products in developed, industrialized nations, neglecting other large developing populations. Despite that present focus, Nintendo president and CEO Satoru Iwata stressed his company's intention to expand its worldwide reach, even if it means moving into new business models. "It is vital for our basic strategy of 'gaming population expansion' that more people in such countries as well as in Japan, North America and Europe, enjoy our video games and feel convinced to pay for them," replied Iwata. Still, the CEO added, "Some in newly-emerging countries do not have an established custom of paying for software. We do wonder if the traditional business model of the video game industry will succeed in such regions." The shareholder also accused Nintendo's corporate leadership of being too nationally insular, with the company's entire board of directors being made up of Japanese citizens. (By comparison, Nintendo's main Japanese rival Sony has a naturalized American citizen, Howard Stringer, serving as its worldwide CEO, with several other non-Japanese board members.) Iwata downplayed that criticism as well, saying "there is a crucial difference between how many non-Japanese directors a company has and how internationally-minded a company is." "If our management did not know or try to understand any countries outside Japan or travel abroad at all, this could be a problem," he continued. "However, all director candidates here are very familiar with various international issues and actually go on international business trips for many purposes." As for supporting evidence? Iwata simply pointed to the self-evident overseas success of the company's consoles and games.

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