Nintendo and Apple have been the subject of many a rumor and fanboy-fueled dream over the years. Since the DS Lite debuted in 2006 with a design reminiscent of Apple's then newly-released MacBook, fans of both companies have seized on the tiniest of details. But what if the rumors are about to come true? Are Apple and Nintendo working on something together? Maybe. Maybe not. One thing is undeniably true, however. The two companies' goals have never been more aligned.
It's no secret that Nintendo has been looking into mobile development. Analysts and speculators had been calling for Nintendo to push into the smartphone arena in late 2013, before a flurry of rumors popped up pegging the company as having plans to bring Mario and company to iOS and Android.
Japanese newspaper Nikkei originally broke the news, a rumor which Nintendo then denied. Nintendo wanted to make sure everyone knew they wouldn't be seeing any games appearing on mobile platforms, much to the relief of their fans.
Nintendo has been known to deny rumors only to have them come true later, as was the case with the 3DS XL. And as Nintendo is wont to do, the very next day during an investors presentation, Iwata said the following:
I have not given any restrictions to the development team, even not ruling out the possibility of making games or using our game characters. However, if you report that we will release Mario on smart devices, it would be a completely misleading statement.
The fact that Nintendo now partially confirmed Nikkei's story slightly overshadowed the second, potentially more interesting announcement: Nintendo is launching a new health platform, of all things, due in 2015-2016.
What does any of this have to do with Apple, right? Apple puts out the most popular phone around these days, but that doesn't mean they're working together.
We're all but guaranteed to see iOS 8 from Apple at WWDC this summer. All the usual suspects (MacRumors, 9to5Mac, Apple Insider) agree Apple is readying a health component, which is being dubbed "Healthbook" in the media as a major feature for iOS 8's release.
So we now know Nintendo is interested in making apps, and is building a health platform. We have speculation from industry insiders pointing to Apple wanting to bundle a health platform into iOS 8. What if these two are the same thing? What if Nintendo's health platform is its mobile app? And what if Nintendo's mobile app is iOS 8's Healthbook?
Why would Nintendo want to help Apple build out iOS 8, when the iPhone is cannibalizing mobile gaming? It's a good question, and the answer is more sensible than you might think. Let's not forget Nintendo is far more experienced in building health applications than Apple. Wii Fit and Wii Fit U have both proven Nintendo has the chops to deliver something world-class. The problem? Wii Fit U is shackled to the Wii U, which isn't doing so well at the moment.
Apple has a reputation for tapping companies that can perform a task better than they believe they can; and they definitely don't know health and activity tracking. Apple's current relationship with Nike seems to be waning, so it would make sense for them to tap a new company to take a fresh look and relaunch their health initiatives.
So what does Nintendo stand to gain? The halo effect. The same way iPhones help sell MacBooks, it stands to reason Nintendo being involved in some way with iOS could move some Wii U consoles.
Imagine Wii Fit built-in to iOS, allowing Nintendo's title to better track your motion and activity with no additional devices required. Something like this could create just the type of halo effect Nintendo would be looking for, no Fit Meter required.
The hardware is already there. The Wii U supports bluetooth, has the ability to receive DLC and firmware updates and most importantly software they're already giving away for free with the purchase of a Fit Meter. Connecting your iPhone to your Wii U and uploading your activity is a title update away.
But Will It Happen?
Realistically? Probably not. It could be a beneficial move for both companies, but I don't see Apple letting Nintendo into their walled garden. And frankly, I don't see Apple benefiting from the partnership nearly as much as Nintendo would, which is a no-go for them.
What do you guys think? Would Wii Fit being integrated into iOS and pre-installed on every iPhone be great or terrible? What Nintendo app do you want to see on smartphones?
It's a terrifying and exciting time to be a Nintendo fan, isn't it?