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Future Nintendo consoles to utilize 'integrated' framework like iOS

Next handheld and console hardware to share the same development environment

Nintendo boss Satoru Iwata has said the firm's next consoles will take cues from Apple's iOS platform by sharing a unified development environment.

Speaking at an investor's briefing last week, the exec said that "vast technological advances" in recent years now allow the company to create an "integrated" software environment that will be shared across its next handheld and console devices in the same way iOS unifies iPhone and iPad software.

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Currently, software on one Nintendo machine is not easily ported to another. But Iwata says an integrated development platform will change this. "If the transition of software from platform to platform can be made simpler, this will help solve the problem of game shortages in the launch periods of new platforms," he said.

The exec also argued that retaining the core architecture from one console to its successor will be important for things such as backwards compatibility.

"While we are only going to be able to start this with the next system, it will become important for us to accurately take advantage of what we have done with the Wii U architecture," he said. "It of course does not mean that we are going to use exactly the same architecture as Wii U, but we are going to create a system that can absorb the Wii U architecture adequately. When this happens, home consoles and handheld devices will no longer be completely different, and they will become like brothers in a family of systems."

Iwata revealed that, as part of this integration plan, in 2013 the company reorganized its R&D divisions to house both its console and handheld teams as a single department.

Creating an integrated family of systems in this way will allow Nintendo the potential to release more varied iterations of its hardware similarly to Apple's wide and varied iOS device lineup, added Iwata.

"Currently, we can only provide two form factors because if we had three or four different architectures, we would face serious shortages of software on every platform," explained Iwata. "Apple is able to release smart devices with various form factors one after another because there is one way of programming adopted by all platforms. Apple has a common platform called iOS," he said, also noting the similar properties of Android.

"The point is, Nintendo platforms should be like those two examples."

In the same investor Q&A, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata shed some more light on the company's plans to reach out to potential customers through smartphones and tablets. The meeting addressed Nintendo's grim sales forecast for the remainder of its financial year.

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