James Surowiecki, the highly respected financial writer for The New Yorker
, focused his attention this week on Nintendo in an article titled, 'In Praise of Third Place'
. In it, Surowiecki notes that Nintendo has shattered the conventional wisdom that a company must be number one or number two in its market in order to survive:
Nintendo, though, has not just survived out of the spotlight; it has thrived. It has five billion dollars in the bank from years of solid profits, and this past year, though it spent heavily on the launch of the Wii, it made close to a billion dollars in profit and saw its stock price rise by sixty-five per cent. Sony’s game division, by contrast, barely eked out a profit and Microsoft’s reportedly lost money. Who knew bringing up the rear could be so lucrative?
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While I do praise any and all forms of Nintendo love, I do find it interesting (and, perhaps, lacking) that Surowiecki barely mentions Nintendo's handheld business, which really did keep the company alive when the Nintendo Gamecube clearly lost the last console war. Still, the article's overall theme remains intact, despite this omission. Gone are the days of there being only room on the market for two video game consoles, as third place comes with a freedom that first and second place do not have.
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