Nintendo is not like its rivals. Nintendo is like Nintendo. Sometimes that results in truly odd ideas — rather, ideas that seem odd at first, but then are ultimately taken up by rivals. These are ideas that actually become "normal".
Sometimes it leads to spectacular failures. But you can always count on Nintendo to do its own Nintendo-y thing.
At a recent start-up conference, Nintendo honcho Satoru Iwata shed light on to why Nintendo keeps trying to innovate.
"If you do the same thing as others, it will wear you out," Iwata explained (via The Bridge). "Nintendo is not good at competing so we always have to challenge [the status quo] by making something new, rather than competing in an existing market."
Words to live by. But in an age when cross-platform games are increasingly common, I honestly believe that if Nintendo simply released a console on par spec-wise with rivals and free of unique features, it would come out on top. Just think, you could play all the third party games you want, plus Nintendo titles.
But then again, that might not feel like a Nintendo console. And that's probably Iwata's point. Though, with all this talk of making something new, I wish Nintendo would make more new characters.