Handheld game console hype cycle and Innovator’s Dilemma-Jakubowski
By Max Jakubowski
January 23, 2017
Handheld gaming first took off in 1976 with Matel’s release of “Auto Race.” This release came only 4 years after the release of the first in home gaming console. By the late 80’s, Nintendo had become the dominant factor within the handheld gaming industry. Nintendo had already found success in the gaming console market, and its production of the Gameboy in the late 80’s and up until the early 2000’s was the most popular handheld gaming device on the planet. However, lack of improvements to graphics and the marketability of new generation gaming consoles saw the handheld gaming device market start to shrivel, with consoles gaining a huge boost in popularity throughout the 2000’s. By 2010, handheld gaming started to make a comeback, but not through a new device. Rather, smartphones began to take the place of handheld devices, with better animations and easier access to games readily available through their phones. Spin off devices based on consoles (like Wii U and PSP) began to enter the market, with limited success. In 2017, Nintendo announced “Nintendo Switch”, a device that could be used interchangeably between mobile/handheld gaming and consoles.
The first in home gaming console (with controllers) introduced to the general public was the Odyssey platform in 1972. While it received generally good reviews, there were some concerns that the console was not mobile for users to pick up and play it anywhere. Matel’s introduction in 1976 produced the first handheld gaming device (Auto Race). The consoles (legacy) would continue to expand and grow, with Nintendo becoming a popular company producing multiple types of consoles throughout the 80’s and 90’s. To complement its console lineup, Nintendo also rolled out a mobile gaming device dubbed the “Gameboy” in 1989, which would go on to become a commercial and social hit throughout the 90’s and into the 2000’s. However, by the mid 2000’s, new generation consoles had taken the market share back because of better graphics, expanded game section and the ability to connect with other users online. This competition produced PSP and other handheld devices that could connect to the internet, display higher quality graphics, while still being able to use the device anywhere. Nintendo’s Wii was the next big console gaming hit, using motion sensors to captivate an audience. While the handheld gaming market could not compete with that, it turned to smartphones, another popular growing trend. Smartphones users could enjoy gaming from the convenience of their own phones while choosing from a plethora of game options with enhanced animations. This trend continued through the past 8 years as the quality and technology of smartphones expanded. In 2017, Nintendo introduced a revolutionary product, “Nintendo Switch,” which acts as a hybrid between both console and handheld gaming. Users can enjoy their favorite games from both the comfort of at home on the console and on the go with the handheld version, with both devices synched together.