The main difference between Nintendo and Apple is self awareness
Apple and Nintendo both share a passion for great products, for fantastic hardware in the support of fantastic software, and both have suffered more than their share of detractors and doomsayers. Recently, many have suggested Nintendo might be better off making games for iPhone and iPad than sticking with their hardware strategy - including people who would spit-take at the idea of Apple licensing out OS X or iOS. Federico Viticci thinks that's because of a disconnect between Apple and Nintendo pundits. MacStories:
Nintendo’s strength right now is that, once again, they can revolve around the fulcrum of portable hardware and game sales to sustain their operation, turn a profit, and buy more time to fix the mess that was the Wii U launch. Saying that Nintendo should shut everything down, go home, and start making games for iOS is an easy but flawed solution that just isn’t supported by the facts.
It was probably tough, between the Jobs eras, and even during the early years of Jobs second act at Apple, to see a viable future for the Mac, much less the staggering success that would be iOS. Apple had also already tried and failed at licensing out their operating system, and Jobs had killed those clones upon his return. Most importantly, however, Apple and Jobs understood that Mac wasn't their business. It was just a product. Likewise, iPhone and iPad. New instantiations of the same ideal. This is something Microsoft under Steve Ballmer failed to understand, to both of their eventual detriment.
That's the biggest difference between Nintendo and Apple. What's Nintendo's business and what products can most successfully attain that business in the future. If the Wii U and 2DS are any indication, they may not know any more than Microsoft did. Because consoles aren't it (which is lucky, because there's probably not much of a future left in that business as mobile moves up and living room evolves.)
That's why I liked Guy English's idea of Nintendo getting out of the console game but staying in the hardware game by making dedicated MFi controllers bundled with their character properties.
Because that's Nintendo's business. Their characters and the gaming experience they create with them. Apple knew their business wasn't PCs and now they're kings of mobile devices and digital downloads. Marvel realized their business wasn't paper and ink comics, and now they're kings of the box office.
I love Nintendo. I've owned every console they've ever made with the exception of the Wii U. And that that they're so lost in the weeds right now breaks my heart. That their momentum is still great enough to mask the problems they face makes it even more tragic. John Gruber of Daring Fireball:
Nintendo, to me, looks incapable of producing handheld hardware that can compete with the iPhone or iPod Touch. I think they’re out of the game and might never get back into it. If they can do it, great — where by “do it” I mean produce a device that’s a better buy for $250 or so than an iPod Touch. But I don’t think they can do it.
I'd take that one step further. Even if Nintendo could make the best console and handheld in the world and it wouldn't matter. Those products have no future. The era where a NES or SNES or GameCube or GameBoy could power what made Nintendo so wonderful is gone. It's the Mario and Donkey Kong and Zelda and Metroid and Pokemon gaming businesses that are limitless.