The people that say Nintendo is going to launch first are the same ones that said the DS and Wii were a fad. In other words, they don't have a firm grip on reality.
I'm not so sure about that.
What if this happens: Sony announces that they are launching a PS3 successor, and right after, Nintendo announces a Wii successor that will launch before the PS3 sucessor.
The reason as for why this could (I mean could, I don't mean that it would) be a smart move is that Nintendo have always suffered from launching after their competitors. NES dominated more than a playstation will ever do, and yet due to allowing the Megadrive some time on the market, Sega almost beat Nintendo until DKC came out and Sega imploded after some stupid moves. Launching N64 late allowed for a window for Playstation to prove that it could sell software that wouldn't have existed if nintendo released first (third parties would probably have gravitated more towards the familiar Nintendo brand as they did with PS2). Gamecube releasing after PS2 also wasn't helpful to nintendo.
Now that Nintendo doesn't value graphics as much anymore, the one benefit for them to launch late is irrelevant. Their strength has always been their software, and since Nintendo systems usually launch with some killer Nintendo games, a Nintendo home console launching before their competitors could be more dangerous than anything we have ever seen. Especially with console sales being avalaunch based and all, and Nintendo's focus towards expanding the market would help too.
The benefits will be:
- First party games will be well-suited to sell the hardware unlike if the launch relied on unpredictable third party software.
- Focus to expand market will (hopefully) give the new platform a big install base.
- Third parties will jump on this big install base. (At least the theoretical and logical third parties would, but I'm not so sure about the real ones....)
- Competitors will have to compete against third party games AND Nintendo games.
If any company could take advantage of a first-mover's advantage properly it should be Nintendo.