EDIT: SEE NEW COMMENT AT BOTTOM OF POST
Near the beginning of 2012 I made a thread that discussed my predictions on next-gen and where I thought Nintendo, MS, and Sony would take their gaming consoles. I also made a separate thread on why Vita needed to be a smartphone and why Nintendo could potentially still survive with a gaming-only portable device. Both of these threads had similar ideas surrounding gaming-centric devices and the post-iOS/Android world.
I'll give ya a hint, even stand-alone cameras are now running full operating systems with downloadable apps and wireless connectivity.
Since the exponential rise in smartphones, consumers have come to not only desire, but flat out expect their consumer electronics to have a certain set of functionality and experience. Now, this does not mean literally everything that plugs in, but items that are within the threshold as having a certain entertainment expectation and especially if you heavily interact with the item. So while a DVD player or TV is perfectly accepted to be a dumb portal type of device, a gaming console is not.
For the last 4 or 5 years, we've seen plenty or articles saying Apple (and by extension Google) were going to kill off portable gaming consoles as people chose their devices, with far more features and cheap software, regardless if the gaming device provided a far better gaming experience. Well folks, its happened but not for the reasons most initially thought. They are not choosing these devices over portable gaming consoles because of cheaper games... in fact, gaming has little to nothing to do with it. Its because of the experience and full features offered for the same or similar price.
The consumer largely will NOT buy a device that cannot do what its now expected to exist. This is why Vita needed to be a smartphone and why Nintendo, even with its amazing first party, will still be reduced generation over generation to a niche portable device.
However, its easy to see that relationship in portables, but what about the home consoles? I think WiiU is already starting to prove this point and I'm making this statement now. WHICHEVER NEXT-GEN CONSOLE RELEASES THAT RUNS A FULL SMART-OS LIKE IOS/ANDROID/WINPHONE, THAT WILL BE THE DOMINANT "CONSOLE" NEXT-GEN.
Its as simple as that. The general consumer demands a full experience and in reality, only Microsoft is in the default position to provide this.
Nintendo clearly missed this opportunity and failed to have Android integration with its WiiU system. It severely lacks applications and media playback that would resonate with the general user. Sure, WiiU has a fantastic browser far surpassing any device connected to a TV thus far, except a PC. It also has a couple mostly 'ok' applications that really can't be blamed on Nintendo for their uninspiring user experience. Then it has a Nintendo/gaming-centric social system that is very nice, but is still only going to attract the more 'core gamer'. A general consumer would want that type of integration with Facebook and Twitter, which is so far non-existant in WiiU. Nintendo will have declining market presence not due to its perceived "kiddy" image or lack of raw horsepower, but solely due to its lack of a full featured experience.
Sony has already made this mistake with its Vita. It tried to offer a limited full OS with the system and throw in the biggest apps on its own. But that is not enough and certainly doesn't warrant its purchase along side anyone's other mobile devices. So with the PS4 (or Orbis / Omni), they have a choice. They can continue their own OS and have very limited application support that pales in comparison with more mature OS systems OR they can combine some of their root security and other systems with an Android application base. If they put out a limited system, even with a decent browser (PS3's is an older variant of WiiU's), they will not compete in the long run with Microsoft. Sony needs to follow their smartphone plans, utilize their Android know-how and provide the full experience in order to compete.
Microsoft will have win8 on their next console. It will be more similar to RT or winphone than PC, but it will exist and it will do everything. It will have Skype. It will have a full browser. It will have hundreds of applications, if not thousands, that can be downloaded and integrated into the console. Integrated Bing. Integrated and sync'd content (video and music) between your TV console, PC, and phone/tablet (if using winphone). You will have all your $60 console rich games along with $0.99 mobile games. You will have more content and integration than iTV or GoogleTV currently provide (though GTV is close). Microsoft is the only one of the these three that will automatically offer it as they are the only one who is also a major OS creator.
So, it looks like MS is by default going to be the only one that definitely meets my statements from early 2012, but Sony could still get there if it wanted to or if they really see this important change in consumer demand for this type of device. Long gone are the days where its just a game console stuck in a corner of a kids room. Those kids grew up and want the gaming console in the front room to play with their kids and they demand that it now does everything else too. Otherwise no sale.
Nintendo, you're the farthest behind this curve. I think you realize its happening but refuse to fully grasp the situation. Given that, 3DS and WiiU will have a shorter life. Still good gaming consoles, but that is not enough in 2013.
EDIT: Since so many of you keep mentioning how 3DS is doing so well that I'm obviously wrong.
Sales 2011 vs 2012
|Months at Retail||Sales||months@$250||months@$170||months@$150|
|2011||10 (9 worldwide)||13,250,062||5||5||0|
So, its launch year had a much higher price, on sale for overall fewer months, far fewer game options and still only saw about a 800,000 sales gain?
2011 Nov/Dec @$170= 7.101m sold
2012 Nov/Dec @$170 to $150 (w/bundles) =5.788m
3DS is not doing overall as well as you'd think. Its clearly on a diminishing pattern.