Friday, July 13, 2007

Nintendo vs. Sony vs. Microsoft

The remarkable success of the Nintendo Wii offers a very important lesson for business leaders. It shows that the most sophisticated technological solution doesn't always win in the marketplace. Recall that, in the prior generation of video game consoles, Sony's Playstation 2 and Microsoft's Xbox outsold Nintendo's GameCube by a wide margin. The GameCube tried to compete with the technology of their rivals, and they failed. In this generation, the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 became even more technologically advanced. They offer far more speed and graphic capability than the Nintendo Wii. However, the Wii has outsold its rivals and has become a smashing commercial success. The lower-tech Wii does not target the hard-core gamer who favors the technological superiority of the PS3 or Xbox 360. Instead, the Wii offers a unique new approach to gaming with its wireless motion-sensor controller. It has sought to appeal to a much broader audience of consumers who are more casual gamers, or who have never played video games. Even senior citizens have taken to playing the Wii games. With less technological wizardry, but a novel idea, the Wii has gained the upper hand against its rivals. Nintendo shows us that companies can succeed without getting into a technological arms race against rivals with deep pockets. The key is to take an indirect approach to competing against those rivals. Rather than confronting Sony and Microsoft head-on, Nintendo created a different kind of console that appealed to different customers than those typically interested in Sony and Microsoft products.