I have seen both statements emphatically made multiple times on this site with regard to Nintendo hardware. Which is it? First, it was repeatedly stated that the rise of mobile phones had eaten so deeply into the handheld market that dedicated handhelds post Nintendo DS and PSP were doomed. While the Vita flopped due to a rapid lack of support from Sony, the Nintendo 3DS sold close to 76 million units over a 9 year lifespan. Yet even still, due to that number being less than half of DS lifetime sales, it seemed to support that mobile had taken a massive chunk of the dedicated handheld market away for good. Which led to a prediction made here that no dedicated gaming device outside of the Sony PlayStation family would ever surpass 81 million units sold ever again.
Fast forward to March 2021, and the runaway train success of the Nintendo Switch which has already surpassed the lifetime sales of the 3DS, and will soon pass the PSP and Gameboy Advance as well. Many on this very forum attribute the success of the Nintendo Switch purely to its capability to be used as a handheld. But how can that be true, if mobile phones already killed the dedicated handheld market, a market which has been shrinking for years? If the Nintendo Switch is a device with "only portable appeal" as so many have labeled it, why is it about to surpass what was viewed as the ceiling for the dedicated handheld market?
Much more than a portable device, the Switch is a hybrid console (the original model anyway). Whether people like to admit it or not, the system has appeal to console gamers who play it on their tv as well as take advantage of the ability to seamlessly continue their games on the go. But even still, with the failure of the Wii U, it had been stated that the "core" Nintendo base had been arrived at. Around 14 million who would buy any console Nintendo puts out, and around 76 million handheld users who would do the same. This reasoning led to a belief that even as a hybrid system, the Switch couldn't possibly sell more than 90 million units. Which is something that it is already poised to do later this year. The fault in this reasoning assumed that Wii U owners and 3DS owners were primarily separate groups, and that combining their numbers would represent a ceiling of Nintendo's potential audience. But, Nintendo has shown that when they successfully innovate (the DS, Wii, Switch), they are capable of reaching a broader audience. Besides, anyone who points to the existence of the Switch Lite, which can only be used as a handheld device, as proof that the Nintendo Switch as a whole should be viewed as "just a portable device", needs only to look at the sales of the 2 models. The original Switch which can be docked for home console play released 4 years ago and has never received a price cut. It costs $100 more than the Switch Lite, yet it regularly sells out even when the Lite remains available. If the Switch only has portable appeal, and "very few Switch owners use it on their tv", why would the version priced $100 more sell out first? Why would the version that is more expensive due to its "least desirable feature" sell out first? The answer is because the Hybrid nature of the system is its "most desirable" feature.
The next reasoning for the Switch's increased success especially following the monster hit release of Animal Crossing last year has been assigned to the Covid boost. Which seeks to explain that family stimulus checks are being spent to buy Nintendo Switch's in unprecedented numbers to give people something to do during lockdowns and social distancing. But, why would the one gaming device on the market that is supposedly only desirable for its portable aspect be so sought after in a situation where people are home in front of their TV and computers more than ever? Why didn't Google Stadia take off instead? Or Oculus Quest? Or why didn't the 100+ million PS4 owners who passed on PSVR use their stimulus checks to give that a try? If the Switch is a device whose most desirable function is to be take on the go, why did it explode in popularity during a "social distance and stay at home" pandemic? The Switch online does not have the robust chat and social features of other devices, so why was it so sought after over devices that would better cater to this in a time where people are trying to fight isolation?
Sorry for my tendency to rant or go off on tangents. But feel free to discuss any of the points I have made. But, especially remark on how the Switch could be viewed as successful solely due to portability in an era where mobile phone gaming was supposed to have already killed handheld gaming.