For any loyal Nintendo fan, their new console released in early March is a necessity. This introduces a new generation of the games we’ve grown to love over the years, and the only way to experience these games is to purchase the new Nintendo Switch. However, the impact of this console arguably has implications beyond just the realm of video games. Even if you are not a Nintendo fan, or if video games aren’t your thing at all, I still think we should point our eyes to the Nintendo Switch as a precursor of the future of technology.
First, let’s look at some specifics of the Nintendo Switch. The inventory of the box, among certain optional accessories, are the following parts: the console, the controller paddles, the controller insert, and the docking station. The console is a 6.2-inch LCD touchscreen where the game media is inserted and where all the computer parts are housed. The console can be placed into the docking station (which plugs into your TV), and allows you to play your game on the big screen. In this mode, the Switch is acting just like any other console system we’re used to, where the controller communicates with the console and controls the image on the television screen. The alternative to this mode is what has never been available in a traditional console – the ability to switch to portable mode. If you remove the console from the docking station, and the paddles from the controller insert, the paddles can be inserted onto the sides of the console to transform the console into a handheld. Now you are not tethered to the television, and you can bring your gaming experience anywhere with you. This console has the robustness that we loved about the PlayStation, along with the portability that we loved about the GameBoy.
It is simple to see the impact this new system has on the gaming community, but what does it tell us about the world of technology in general, or specifically in the workplace? While the games play a large part in the consumers’ incentive to purchase the console, I think the more attractive selling point is the concept, not necessarily the games. Those who own only a stationary console yearn for portability, and those who own only a portable console yearn for robustness. With the Nintendo Switch, you no longer need to choose between the two; regardless of what game you’re playing, the versatility is highly valued.
Another problem that plagues the production IT world is the difficulty surrounding how to “take your work with you”. Any busy professional these days knows that leaving the office does not exempt you from work – it has become necessary to start looking at convenient ways to have your work available to you from home just as it is at work. The Nintendo Switch accomplishes this, as the progress you make when you are docked to a television goes with you when you enter portable mode (and vice-versa). Now imagine there were a device, much like the Switch, that you could dock at a television and have the robustness of a computer, and take with you when you leave to have the convenience of a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. No matter where you go, you can stay productive, and as long as there is a dock available, you can always make use of the workstation mode. I believe this theoretical dock will become as commonplace as a smartphone charger, and could likely even be simply a cable that plugs into your television or monitor.
Nintendo has always relied heavily on its incredible branding to keep its presence in the gaming industry, and I do believe that plays some role here as well. However, I think the Nintendo Switch is and will be remembered as the first aggressive step into the age of stationary-mobile-hybrid devices. One day, I believe this concept will spread more and more throughout the industries of leisure, and will eventually become our primary method of work. I first introduced this notion in my 2016 article titled “Honey I Shrunk the Computer”, and the Nintendo Switch is an early indicator that this is where we’re heading.