"Once we launch a new platform," said Nintendo president Satoru Iwata in response to an investor question, "we naturally start to prepare for the next one. As it takes several years to develop a single platform, if you ask us whether we are preparing for our next system, then the correct response will be that we are always developing new hardware."
This quote doesn't mean Nintendo is abandoning its current generation of hardware, though. On the contrary, Iwata doesn't intend to abandon 3DS and Wii U until those who have already purchased them are "satisfied."
"We will continue to work hard to ensure that consumers who already own our platforms are satisfied," continued Iwata, "and make sure that people will continue to see great value in our software. I would like to say that we are preparing for our next hardware system, and in fact, we already have a clear idea to some extent about the direction our next hardware is going to take."
Iwata would not be drawn on whether or not we could expect to see said new hardware sooner rather than later, however. He did, however, highlight the company's new focus on "improving people's QOL [quality of life] in enjoyable ways" and again reiterated that using Nintendo's game-making knowhow to provide compelling, engaging and entertaining health-related titles and products would be something the company intended to explore fully.
Heading off the inevitable "Nintendo should go into smartphones and tablets" talk that usually follows a Nintendo financial results briefing, Iwata also noted that the company had been "studying how we can best incorporate our video games into the time that people use their smart devices," highlighting Mario Kart 8's Mario Kart TV smartphone app as just one example of how this could happen. "In the future," he explained, "it is possible we will decide that certain elements of our video games should be enjoyed when players use their smart devices. In other words, we will try to ensure that there is more than one device, more than one location or more than one environment where users can access our products and make sure those users can interact with our products in various environments." Transitioning Nintendo's online services from being device-based to Nintendo Network ID-based -- a process that has already begun with both Wii U and 3DS -- will be a key aspect of this.
Iwata also noted that internal development teams headed up by legendary game designer Shigeru Miyamoto were also "committed to developing several titles that focus on offering unique experiences only made possible with the Wii U GamePad in order for a large number of people to understand the Wii U GamePad's significance." Said titles will be shown off at E3 and apparently run the gamut from being "nearly complete to still in the early phases of development but with the core of its appeal noticeable."
Nintendo is not holding a traditional press conference at E3 and is instead relying on other means of highlighting its products. With Wii U at a disadvantage against its Generation 8 brethren -- though still putting up a fight with exclusives such as Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. -- this year's expo will be an important one for the company.