Nintendo CEO thinks iPhone has Wii-like staying power

In a newspaper interview this week at the E3 conference, Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata says that despite the price of Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone, it will sell because “it’s an emotional thing that goes beyond the price point.”

Speaking with Dean Takahashi of the San Jose Mercury News (transcript here), Iwata compared the iPhone to his company’s Wii console. Says Iwata:

Price point is always important for mass market commodities. Look at the iPhone. It’s expensive. But I think it is going to sell. It does something that people really want to do. People want to share it. It’s an emotional thing that goes beyond the price point. It has emotional power. You are connected to it. Price point is not necessarily what makes a mass market successful. If you look at the Wii, and all we could do was provide sequels to GameCube games, I don’t think it would have reached the mass market.

Stepping back a bit, the iPhone and the Wii have a lot in common. Both entered competitive electronics markets that have strong players including Sony (SNE) and Microsoft (MSFT). Both took big risks by abandoning the button-pushing controller model, and instead embracing an interface that’s more like natural human motion. And both took unorthodox approaches to pricing – Nintendo by pricing low, Apple by pricing high.

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