I don't place much importance into it, actually. I don't think Zelda can carry a console. I don't even think the series is as significant of a release as it was in the early to late 90s. Zelda ist just one of many games on the market. I merely see it as one of many hints that Nintendo's next console will be out in 2016 and I totally support this decision. No matter what you say, Nintendo can't survive without a home console business and in early 2017 there won't be any home console business left without a new system. That's what their internal research says, as well. Otherwise they'd launch the next handheld first, as they always did. What I think is that people place too much importance on "Nintendo fans". Whenever Nintendo tries to please its hardcore fans, it fails spectacularly in the market. Whenever Nintendo doesn't try to please an existing fanbase its sales skyrocket. That's the picture I see and you may disagree with it.
I doubt they can support the Wii U in 2017: 3DS sales numbers will go down as well and they cut costs as much as they could already. I'm sure that's what their internal projections show, as well.
The Wii U is a flawed system: the Gamepad never worked and never enticed consumers, the flash storage is extremely slow, third parties never liked the architecture and Nintendos first party studios struggled from the beginning with game development on the system. "Kill your darlings" is probably the most important piece of advice I've heard in my life: If something doesn't work and you've really tried to make it work, kill it. That's what Nintendo is doing with the Wii U (they really tried, but they couldn't integrate the gamepad in a way that improved the games) and I support their decision. But I can totally see where you're coming from.
And I agree about the third parties part and Mario / Metroid. Again, I can totally see your point. I think they are stuck between a rock and a hard place right now.
I agree, Nintendo needs a home console business. But they can wait until winter 2017 to give us the new system.
As I said, their finances are in the green. If they were hurting that badly for cash they would push out Zelda U and make a quick buck. Skylanders with Amiibo is coming out, do you not believe Nintendo is going to see some crazy amounts of money real soon? I don't like Skylanders, but I would be insane to not realize it's going to be an insanely profitable venture. I mean stupid profitable.
Also, I agree with everything but the gamepad never working, although I can even agree it never enticed customers. If someone was expecting something more than a hud and a quick inventory menu then they were going to be let down. The fact that it also offered off tv play and gyroscope controls implemented fairly well into games are an actual pleasant surprise for me. I guess the thing with the gamepad was, what were people expecting?
And while I agree they are between a rock and a hardplace, I still believe the worst thing they can do is take the one thing a lot of people probably bought the console for (LoZ) and make it a cross gen game. Not that I doubt they would do something stupid like that, but it's going to piss most of their 10 million fans off, and that is an increadibly stupid thing to do. Even if they only piss off around 5 million, that would be a massive mistake. This comes up a lot but look at Sega. They tried to release a console first as well as constantly try to release periferals to make their current systems the strongest system on the market. Genesis was stronger than the NES, then Nintendo dropped the Snes. Sega answered with Sega CD and then 32X (and neither of these add ons were supported nearly enough). Then Sega released the Saturn because of the more powerful N64, and roughly 4 years later with the Dreamcast to half gen it like what we are seeing Nintnedo do. Fortunately for Nintendo Amiibo and 3DS are extremely profitable, and the Wii U (though selling bad) is also right now profitable. Sometimes you just got to let things ride. Kneejerking a reaction to bad sales isn't going to help Nintendo.