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Rumor has it, according to a story from RipTen, that the console maker is in talks with Google to potentially use Android as at least part of the operating system for its upcoming Wii U console, the follow-up to its motion-controlled Wii. The Wii U is also based on motion control, but instead of a single remote control-shaped controller, as was seen with the last version of the console, Nintendo is bringing a controller that shares the size, shape and design of Android tablets.
That has sparked some discussion of what Nintendo intends to do with the controller. It already has a screen baked-in that interacts with Wii U video games as they’re being played, and the controller includes a lot of other typical tablet technology, such as a gyroscope, touchscreen, camera and more. From the looks of things, players will be using the second screen to interact with games as they play them on their TVs, and it may be possible to actually play games just with the tablet controller.
If the latter is the case, Nintendo may be looking to capitalize on a big opportunity by making the Wii U controller into at least a semi-functional Android tablet. Adding the operating system could allow Nintendo to work out a partnership that would offer some mobile game functionality on the machine, giving it a new piece of hardware to sell (Nintendo’s bread and butter) and a new way to leverage content. It might even be able to add the capability of selling downloadable game titles that play on the tablet, much like what Nintendo is starting to offer with its 3DS handheld console.
That’s a lot of speculation, but Android integration seems like it could offer many benefits to Nintendo. Of course, there could be some technical issues to tackle, like putting Android on the tablet controller as well as Nintendo’s software that makes it function with the greater Wii U console. But the possibilities are endless, and they seem like they could open up a new way for Nintendo to make money from its console just by tapping into the existing mobile world.
Given the way the mobile sphere seems to be cutting into Nintendo’s territory in the handheld market, an integrated Android tab as a Wii U controller seems like it might be a way for the video game maker to have its cake while still eating it.