When asked about the impact that the iPhone and iPod touch have had on Nintendo's stranglehold on portable gaming, and whether or not there is any concern about the iPad, Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime said that Apple "is not having an impact on Nintendo when you look at our business, our volume, our hardware, our software." Fils-Aime elaborated on this by highlighting the app store ecosystem and gaming experience. For him, the existence of free games makes it "[clear that] it doesn't look like their platform is a viable profit platform." The iPhone platform also serves up games that aren't even a "mouthful," when compared to the in "between snacks of entertainment and full meals" that Nintendo's portable experience provides.
While the availability of lower priced substitutes, and free ones at that, will invariably have an impact on the sales of other goods, many a developer has made hearty revenues from the app store. They range from the large and more-established like Electronic Arts, to the smaller Lima Sky, makers of the the popular game Doodle Jump. As a result, it's no surprise that many developers made a push to get iPad apps ready for launch day, as well as racing out to buy iPads during launch day in order to test out their apps on the device (as opposed to the simulator).
Then there's Fils-Aime's take that the platform's gaming experience leaves much to be desired. Here, a snack would be something akin to Brain Age, while a game like World of Warcraft would be like going to Hometown Buffet. While there is many a game on the iPhone that leaves much to be desired, the platform features a diverse library to whet the gaming appetites of many.
The iPhone's success as a gaming platform is an offshoot of its wide ranging appeal and versatility, born from the convenience of the app store and multitouch differentiation. However, unlike the iPhone, the iPad isn't something that will always be on the physical person of its owners. One of the distinct exceptions, however, are students. If the iPad makes inroads in the education market and becomes as ubiquitous as textbooks, then it can have a substantial impact on gaming. What better way to pass the time away while waiting for mom to pick you up or when you're in between classes than to use your iPad -- which also happens to house all 5 of your textbooks -- to play some games. This is something that has the potential to impact Nintendo's portable gaming.
Picking sides in a Nintendo-Apple fight is no fun, as both are companies that share much in common and have many shared fans. It's like picking between Shaq and Kobe. The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) that brought me the joy of The Legend of Zelda and Metroid -- as well as the joy of having to blow on the games for 10 minutes before they'd work -- shared the same room with my original Macintosh. It will be interesting to see how this game plays out.