March 4, 2016

Google & Nintendo: “Kiddy” Companies Cut From the Same Cloth

By Megan G.

Our little chameleon Google Pegman is at it again. In celebration of the re-release of Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess for the Wii-U, Pegman has donned the green garb of the series’ famous hero, Link

Image from the official 
Twilight Princess (which is amazing, by the way, if you haven’t played it) isn’t officially re-released until March 10th, so Peg-Link will continue saving the land of…wherever you are in Google Maps…for the next few days. 


This isn’t the first time Google and Nintendo have partnered up for an adorable addition to their mapping app. Back in 2014, Google Maps became littered with wild Pokemon and “anyone with a smartphone or tablet” could try to catch ‘em all! 

Image from Tech.Co.

Watch the original launch video of the Google Maps Pokemon Challenge here.

The companies’ nerdy collaboration has not remained a surface-level, fan-service relationship, either. In October 2015, Nintendo, Google, and the Pokemon Company invested $20 million in Niantic Labs to create Pokemon GO, an augmented reality, Pokemon-catching experience for mobile phones. Yeah. My heart just exploded, too.

Niantic Labs, formerly an internal startup at Google, is primarily known for the mobile game Ingress, which uses Google Maps tech and augmented reality to weave a tale of science fiction and intrigue. The continued success of Ingress bodes well for the new, unique Pokemon title they have in the works.

While this fanciful partnership delights me, I am compelled to wonder what draws Google and Nintendo together. What could a search ad company and a video game company have in common, anyway? That’s what this latest Tek Shouts! article will try to figure out.

An “Innocent” Image

It’s safe to say that Google has always portrayed themselves as a company made possible by kids-at-heart. Their whimsical Google Doodles, Alphabet’s adorable building blocks, and the adorable children education programs like Santa Tracker…all of these things and more remind users that Google is accessible for all ages, including children.  

Similarly, Nintendo, the most successful video game company in the world, creates stereotypical “games for kids,” with family-friendly themes and charming characters. While the company’s many gaming series have spawned a multitude of kid fanatics, the stories of Super Mario, Legend of Zelda, Donkey Kong, and other classics stick with fans well beyond their younger years.

These fun and fancy-free corporate faces should not be confused with juvenile practices and products. No matter how cute a Google Doodle may be or how obnoxiously colorful the next Kirby title is, Google and Nintendo are the epitomai of professional corporations, through and through.

Divisions, Divisions

The rebranding and splitting of Google into Alphabet and its divisions was one of the biggest news stories last year. This image from Business Insider remains one of the best illustrations of how the division actually worked.

Image from Business Insider.
Larry Page and Sergey Brin believed they could “make it [company operations] cleaner and more accountable” by dividing responsibilities. In short, Google grew in its success and ambitions and did too much outside of Search and Ads, its most lucrative products.

In order to quell the understandable anxieties of their stockholders, the company needed to reform into focused sections to pay better attention to money spent and to make tangible advancements—aka advancements that are marketable and affordable to their customers. Since Google’s stocks have soared, clearly the division was the right move. 
Google CFO Ruth Porat. Image from The Wall Street Journal.
Nintendo, being the internationally influential company that it is, puts Alphabet’s division chart to shame. Take a look at the Nintendo divisions Wikipedia page and you’ll see exactly how big this gaming company is. Nintendo researches and develops products in Japan, the United States, and France and has amazing consumer reach throughout North American and Europe.

The many divisions beyond their headquarters include Entertainment Planning & Development, Platform Technology Development, Business Development, and a ton of subsidiaries. In short, Nintendo is on top of their mega-corporation operations.
Of course, Nintendo has a few years on Google, having been founded in 1889. Hmm? No, that’s wasn’t a typo.

Answering the customer call

126 years ago, Nintendo started out by producing handmade hanafuda playing cards. While the company products have changed over the years, Nintendo’s core focus was always the same: Nintendo was always a gaming company, and a company focused on playing games with friends.
Playing cards, toys, and electronic games and systems—Nintendo knew how to please its contemporary audience, and when to change along with the times.
Google’s core goal has been to make life easier and, more vaguely, innovation in general. With their continuous updates to online search, affordable smartphones and other devices, and even self-driving cars, Google matches Nintendo in their response to current culture and consumer demands.

Always On The Move With Mobile

Game Boy Color, 1998. 
Created by Nintendo.
Video games and new tech are all fun and games until someone breaks their back trying to set up their super heavy new console. Sure, I want to check out my new computer, but I don’t want to spend ten hours setting the thing up, downloading all of the software, and fixing all of the bugs. 

Human laziness wins every time, my friends, and this is partially why the age of mobile technology flourishes. 

One of the most important comparisons I can make between Google and Nintendo is the companies’ focus on mobile devices. Both companies have created lucrative and affordable lines of mobile tech that the competition just can’t seem to hold a candle to. 

Back in 1980, Nintendo realized the potential of convenient handheld gaming devices with their original Game & Watch system. However, it wasn’t until 1989 that the handheld gaming market would truly be established. That fateful year, Nintendo created the Nintendo Game Boy, the system that saw the likes of Super Mario Land, Kirby’s Dream Land, and the original Pokemon Red and Blue versions.

A nearly 30-year legacy of amazing mobile gaming can be credited to Nintendo.  The company has even announced the development of their first “mobile” game (as in smartphone game for Android and iOS) called Miitomo

Image from Comandir.

While Google cannot take credit for the establishment of the mobile phone market—we all bow to you, Apple—the company has more than any other tech company, arguably created some of the best mobile experiences via their apps and Android OS. Their smartphones nowadays have developed so that they can stand up to the iPhone, no problem.

How do you get to that new sushi restaurant you and your friends want to try or the office where you’re gonna land that new job interview, or anywhere else for that matter? Most people will tell you, “Google Maps,” because it offers the best navigation services on the market. Heck, you could even find Pokemon with the app for a short time. Tim Cook can’t say that. 

“I can never…catch ‘em all.” Tim Cook. Image from Mashable.

Work-focused, free apps like Google Drive, Google Docs, and Google Sheets make creating docs and sharing them with team members so much easier. They are also available on mobile and desktop, which creates a seamless cross-device experience. These types of Google apps are constantly improving and may even one day make the expensive Microsoft Office Suite obsolete.

Users can also download the Google app which offers a faster way to search the web and connect to nearly all other Google-made apps you might have like Google Calendar and Gmail. The company’s most recent Google Search update changed the design of the results pages to accommodate mobile searches. Google is also no stranger to virtual reality and augmented reality, and both Google Cardboard and Google Glass were designed as mobile devices.

I could go on forever, but let me just wrap this up by saying that Google is a mobile-focused company that makes excellent products to account for it. Just like Nintendo.
Whether the similarities between Google and Nintendo are a coincidence or not, their mutual success is certainly noteworthy. It is also interesting to note that such successful companies always seem to be looking toward the future.

I’m sure I didn’t catch all of the similarities that Google and Nintendo share, but feel free to continue this conversation in the comment section below! 

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