Listening to Your Customers

Time magazine has a story about Nintendo at E3, its direction, and some first hand contact with WarioWare Wii. The article is illicitly making its way around the internet. What stood out to me, more than any revelations about the hardware and the games, is one paragraph.

But the name Wii not wii-thstanding, Nintendo has grasped two important notions that have eluded its competitors. The first is, Don’t listen to your customers. The hard-core gaming community is extremely vocal–they blog a lot–but if Nintendo kept listening to them, hard-core gamers would be the only audience it ever had. “[Wii] was unimaginable for them,” Iwata says. “And because it was unimaginable, they could not say that they wanted it. If you are simply listening to requests from the customer, you can satisfy their needs, but you can never surprise them. Sony and Microsoft make daily-necessity kinds of things. They have to listen to the needs of the customers and try to comply with their requests. That kind of approach has been deeply ingrained in their minds.”

The article then concluded with a trendy Nintendo+Apple comparison, which reminded me of something Signal vs. Noise posted once: looking back at an original iPod announcement thread with the hindsight that we have now. Their (sarcastic) comment then? Apple should have just listened to their customers and never released the iPod.

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