For your first paragraph, we actually could, or at least I did. When I first heard the details of the system, it was pretty easy for me to see what they were thinking and where the system's potential lay. It never seemed like a gimmick to me, although the initial game lineup was certainly disappointing, and I didn't buy one until late 2005, when games that delivered on that promise finally seemed imminent.
By contrast, I didn't "get," nor do I still "get" the 3DS. Having seen multiple 3D movies by then, including the one "made for" it, the entire thing really does still seem like a gimmick. I personally don't mind the slide pad itself, but it makes creating console-ish games much more plausible than it was on the DS. Anyone who's played Mario 64 DS could tell you that those games would vanish from the system soon, or the system would die; on the 3DS, those games are technically feasible, and right now it looks like they're going to be the crown jewel. Spotpass is a neat idea, but it's not very practical in the US, and it doesn't seem to actually add anything to the experience.
I take your point that the future may be different: I keep adding the "if things continue like this" qualifier for just that reason. I'm hoping that they do change, and if they do things should improve. This is the big reason I'm going to log in next week to see what goes on. But I admit that I'm not feeling confident right now.
And you still have papers to write? It's JUNE!!!
Summer school :/. In a world where the universe wasn't determined to take things i like away from me, i'd be in Japan right now, since that fell through, it's summer school for me.
EDIT: also you have to take into account that they're trying to cut the legs out from under Sony and the PSP, which did considerable damage to DS and Wii in Japan. It's a competitive reason for them putting focus into this, and all that's missing is the appearance of games or applications that more aggressively use the console's social functions. the Pokedex is a start, and if we see more, we could see Nintendo continue to push into the market that made the DS great, and hopefully fend off the NGP pre-emptively
The question is if those Brain-Age style games appear, and that's what we'll have to watch for.
Monster Hunter: pissing me off since 2010.