Forbes Columnist Paul Tassi published an article on the Nintendo Switch.
The Nintendo Switch is out in just a couple more weeks, and yet every day we get fascinating tidbits about what exactly it will or won’t do. The latest news is that the Switch won’t ship with a web browser, which is rather unusual for a portable, screen-based device in 2017, as even the 3DS has one, but it joins the similarly strange news that the Switch does not have the ability to access video apps like Netflix or Hulu at launch either.
ITS CERTAINLY POSSIBLE THAT THE SWITCH COULD GET THESE THINGS
It’s certainly possible that the Switch could get these things eventually, but either they were cut as Nintendo focuses on other priorities to make sure the system is out this March before its fiscal year’s end, or once again, this is another purposeful decision to try and separate itself from iPads or other tablets.
The current messaging about the Switch is becoming pretty clear at this point: This is a home console you take on the go. Not a replacement for a handheld. Not a competitor to tablets. This is a device that plays games, and that’s all it needs to be.
IS THAT TRUE, THOUGH?
Is that true, though? Is that all the Switch needs to be, or will the lack of such basic functionality come back to bite it if it’s not added in short order? I’m not exactly sure, but the interesting thing is that aspects of the Switch can’t actually function without the player having a smart device on hand, namely for online play, which will have aspects like the partying system and voice chat running through a mobile app.
But I also don’t think there’s a point in Nintendo going all out and trying to make the Switch a true tablet with access to a full app suite. As nice as it would be if the Switch was essentially an iPad that played fully-fledged Nintendo games, it was never going to be realistic for the system to actually achieve that. Tablets are much more expensive, are an entirely different class of product, and that would go against Nintendo’s desire to be in essentially their entirely own category with the Switch.
NINTENDO WILL ALREADY BE BATTLING THE PS4 AND XBOX ONE
Furthermore, like it or not, Nintendo will already be battling the PS4 and Xbox One at home, and it’s actually in competition with its own 3DS to some degree when it comes to gaming on the go, at least until it’s discontinued. They are also doing battle with tablet games, but I don’t think that conflict has to escalate to Nintendo actually trying to make the Switch into a tablet itself. The message is that if you want to play “lesser” games and watch streaming video, keep the tablet you probably already own. But if you want to play some of the biggest and best video games on the market as you travel, that alone is worth spending $300 on a fully dedicated gaming device like the Switch.
STILL, THERE ARE SOME UNKNOWNS AND SOME ODD DECISIONS
Still, there are some unknowns and some odd decisions. I’m still finding it hard to wrap my head around this idea that key features of the online service will be run through a phone app, as that just does not seem like a good idea for many reasons. And the lack of a web browser specifically might prove problematic if the Switch is trying to connect to one of many Wifi sources that require some sort of browser-based login, though perhaps they have a way of getting around that.
The Switch is a risk. It always has been, given that it’s trying to compete in so many different spaces against so many other different devices at the same time. I do agree that this should not just be a “Nintendo tablet,” nor treated as such, but I do think it’s going to be a tough long-term battle given its competition.