Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Wii can learn something from Nintendo...

If you live in the U.S. (or nearly anywhere for that matter) and follow the consumer tech market even at a glance, you surely could not have missed all the goings on surrounding Sony's and Nintendo's recent release of new gaming consoles, the PS3 and Wii, respectively.  What is interesting is while all the crazy hoopla seemed to focus on Sony's frontal assault on Microsofts XBox 360, Nintendo [relatively speaking] quietly introduces the Wii, a much lower priced, less featured, not-nearly-as-good graphics, gaming system. 

On paper, the Wii, is a huge “why bother.”  However on further examination, there is some interesting genius at work here.  Sony and Microsoft are bent on being #1, owning the living room, and being a vehicle for all entertainment and media.  Gaming is beginning to take a back seat.  Nintendo, however, is emerging as being the one player in the console gaming market that clearly knows where it's bread is buttered.  They do gaming consoles, handheld game platforms, and have a much larger library of Nintendo produced games.  That's it.  They're not out to “be the do-all end-all media device.”  It is also worth noting that Nintendo seems to be the only one of the three that is actually very profitable (in the console gaming business).

What prompted this post was that I came across this interesting article in The New Yorker magazine.  What really struck me was this:

“A recent survey of the evidence on market share by J. Scott Armstrong and Kesten C. Green found that companies that adopt what they call 'competitor-oriented objectives' actually end up hurting their own profitability. In other words, the more a company focusses on beating its competitors, rather than on the bottom line, the worse it is likely to do.”

I guess the way I'm going to somehow tie all of this back to CodeGear is to say that, as a much smaller company with a single-minded focus we should really take a few notes here.  We must make sure we focus on what we're purporting to be all about.  We're going to have to have “developer-oriented objectives“, and not “competitor-oriented objectives.”  By doing that, I have little doubt that we can thrive and have a profound impact on the lives of developers.

To steal a line from the Nintendo Wii TV commercials, “CodeGear wants to play.”


  1. Shouldn't that blog title be "CodeGear can learn something from Nintendo". It doesn't make much sense as it is, does it?

    Nintendo also have a nice web site which tells everyone what they do. Over two weeks after the CodeGear announcement, that's another lesson that CodeGear could learn from Nintendo...


  2. I think it's a good idea. Nevertheless, I wonder if it could be a bad idea to publicly write about these intentions? I think it could be misunderstood by more people ("oh, we're just going to do our own thing like we've always done") than the good it generates.

    Sun Tzu said "All men can see the tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved." (VI.27)

    Then again, I may just be paranoid. :)

  3. Keep an eye on competition to see what they are <not> doing...

  4. IMHO, the notion of Delphi offering a substantially different take on developer needs from that of Visual Studio is /definitely/ the way forward - AFAICS, the writing on the wall clearly states that stale re-heats of old MS tech simply don't cut the mustard...

    If this post is a statement of intent about forging your own path ahead then all I can say is - you go for it, guys !!!

  5. Dave Jewell, you've entirely missed the pun in the title. Try saying it out loud.

  6. I think the CodeGear philosophy should be embodied in three words "Solve The Problem". That means thinking at a higher level than just feature matching with Microsoft. Microsoft's solutions are its approach to "solving the problem" (such as productive web development, memory management, etc). Rather than just adopt all their approaches, agree that theirs is not necessarily the BEST way to 'solve the problem' and think it through. My wife was interested in the Wii because, as she looked at the button mappings on the controller for a particular game, she said "I'll never learn that. Forget it". On the other hand, the idea of just waving, tilting, swinging etc a controller through the air and have that be meaningful to the game machine was appealing to her. Nothing to learn - she already knows it. If I presented you with a baseball game, and told you that X does a bunt, A does a power swing, B does a safe swing, etc... you'd have to remember that. With the Wii, you just do whatever the motion is. Swing hard, swing soft, or make a 'bunt' motion with the controller, and it's all done. It's because Nintendo saw the problem of increasing complexity in games and wondered why it must necessarily be so, and how could games be expanded to reach people like my wife who see controller maps and leave the room. They just took a fresh look at the problem and set about solving it with nearly complete disregard to what the competition was doing. So...challenge to whatever realm you wish to compete: "Solve the Problem".

  7. The last game console I owned was the original nintendo - I got it used in a garage sale in like 95 and passed it on after getting bored with duck hunt later that year.

    I play very few computer games (the are either too easy, too repetitive, or require you to have exactly the same cultural bias as the puzzle maker) - but I have enjoyed a few, like Midtown Madness 1 and 2. Making MT 3 XBox only failed to inspire me to buy one. Someone offering to PAY for an XBOX for me still failed to inspire me buy one.

    A few weeks ago, I saw the commercials for Gears of War. Wow. The quality was immediately apparent, just from the commercial. It might be a cutscene, but it was CLEARLY rendered by the game itself.

    I now own an XBOX 360 & Gears of War. (I don't play it much, but the family loves it).

    So what finally converted me? Not marketing, not even quality marketing - but marketing of QUALITY.

    Let me say that again : QUALITY.

    It's a video game, and as such is primarilly a visual device and damned if it doesn't look great.

    As I was buying it, people were lining up for PS3s. Why? Because it has awesome games? Nope, those might eventually follow, but it was just plain marketing. The same frenzy that also got people buying the Wii.

    In a year, I'll still be playing my XBox360 (probably gears of war...), but the other trend chasers will have already moved onto the next new thing, be it console, hand held or paddle and ball with new color string.

    I've seen the commercials for the Wii, and frankly, I suspect that the Wii is going to be the FIRST game to be displaced by the paddle and ball even if it DOES have a game version that does exactly the same thing (or more appropriately, becuase that might be its most entertaining game).

    Fads fade and customers move on. I, however, am gonna have to track down a copy of Midtown Madness 3 and see if it plays on my XBOx360...

  8. Dave,

    I guess you didn't get the double entendre... Wii is pronounced "we"

    And the website is being being developed as we speak.


  9. IMHO, I would say do not focus on others rating you as #1 in the marketplace. This makes you competitor-driven. If you sit back, focus on your clients (not customers, clients...think about the difference), assess their needs, deliver it with service, then you will never have to worry about bouncing a check. People that buy your products only listen to one station: WIIFM (What's In It For Me). I like the approach that CodeGear is taking by not allowing .NET to be the "catch-all to end-all". There are competing technologies out there, and what I want (as a client) is a tool that would allow me to participate or not participate at my choosing.

  10. I agree! To me, Delphi has been a cornerstone of Borland's house, and shows what the company (now CodeGear) can do.

    Delphi's strength lies in it's flexibility, clean language, and speed (both compilation and fast EXEs). Delphi will always be #2 in the .NET world. There is no other vendor who has licensed .NET to produce a competing IDE. Everyone else has written add-ins for VS.NET. Why? Because it's insane to think you can compete head to head with Microsoft. No one has the cash, and then there is the question of having enough talent.

    If I were a CodeGear cog I would concentrate on strengthening Delphi's hold on the Win32/Linux environment. Not everyone wants to go as heavyweight as .NET, and Microsoft doesn't really want this market, so CodeGear can thrive. Go Native....time is of the essence...

  11. Allen,

    What you say makes sense, but it runs so contrary to Borland/CodeGear's current practice that's it's laughable. If you were really focused on beating the bottom line and not on your competitors, you wouldn't have an IDE that looks like Visual Studio. You wouldn't be racing to catch up to Visual Studio's features. You wouldn't be devoting 90% of your work to a platform that 10% of your customers use (.NET). You wouldn't be using Microsoft's designers in your IDEs. You wouldn't be limiting your IDEs by the lack of designers from Microsoft (i.e. the whole CF debacle).

    Allen, what you've said here is, IMO, *THE KEY* to Code Gear's survival. What I hope you realize is that this will be a very radical, fundamental change for you, *NOT* business as usual.

  12. Larry Hengen -> MS still wants win32 developers, thus C++. MS might also be more interested in the dotNet *Nix world than you might expect...

    Jacob -> WHen I first saw the new IDE, I figured that Borland had licensed a stripped down version of VS (with all the best bits like macros and keybindings removed), right down to the way it wanted to save projects into the my documents folder. Gutting a good IDE and then trying to cross code it to something like an old IDE explained a lot of its problems to me. I would have expected fewer problems if they had just started from scratch. Apparently we were wrong and they did start from scratch.

    How we ended up with VS's poorer, harder to use little brother as the end result, I have no idea, but there it is.

    When a survey asked if I would be interested in a VSIP port of Delphi, I was DEFINITELY interested. Borland has NOT distinguished itself in the IDE world in a while and the thought that the would stop wasting their and my time trying and instead focus on the core functionality instead was appealing.

    Sadly, we are still stuck with Galileo's MANY limitations, and I suspect that will continue to be the case for a long, long time.

    Fortunately, If I even want to get serious about dotNet, there is Chrome (sorry Allen, but if I go dotNet, it is going to be pure winforms. does not interest me, and as such the borland IDE has nothing to offer me in that area but a technological backwater)

  13. I think Nintendo is an excellent model for CodeGear, precisely for the reason you mention. They have been profitable even though they are not number one in the market. The nay-sayers who say that "it is impossible to beat MSFT so why not just give up?" completely miss the point. You don't NEED to beat Microsoft. You just need to innovate and give people what they want.

    I wanted a Wii ever since I learned about the controller, which is the first video game controller that is not retarded. So what if the graphic are not hi-def? I don't own an HD TV anyway. But trying to get a Wii has been futile. The demand is far far far outstripping supply, and that alone is a sign that the Wii is an excellent model for how to run a business. Give the people what they need. It's a simple point but it seems to be missed by so many suits.

  14. I'd like to see CodeGear as a quality "developer tools" company rather than a "developer IDE" company.

    I'm glad you don't want to try to "beat" MS. Hopefully for .NET we will see CodeGear tools that plug into Visual Studio and enhance it. Freeing up lots of resource to concentrate on the area where you are unquestionably #1, native windows application development!

    The .NET IDE fight isn't lost, it's just pointless. I'm so pleased that you seem to recognise this!

  15. First you need to address the woeful quality that Borland has become notorious for.

    If the Wii controller fell apart on the first swing, how many would be lining up to buy it ?

    Borland software has in the last decade been buggy, unreliable, unstable and based on an old 386 code emitting compiler.

    As the "Chief Scientist" at Borland, you need to shoulder a significant amount of the blame.

    Dont worry about emulating Nintendo, worry about whether you are going to have ANY customers left if you keep producing the rubbish software that you are currently churning out.

  16. Shouldn'the quote at the bottom say CodeGear instead of Borland? :-)

    I think the one exciting thing about the chagne is the ability of CodeGear to set it's own priorities instead of Borland setting them. Since Borland is more interested in ALM, I'm betting their priroities were ALM, and Delphi suffered due to that. You can have great plans, but you can't do much about them without the resources to do something about them.

  17. Ah -- ok I get it now. :-) I have a friend who is a "Wii" fanatic and I just refuse to pronounce it the way he does. I tend to pronounce it "W-ih-ih" just to wind him up. Hence, I didn't spot the joke. [blush]

  18. I used v. 1 of Turbo C and V. 1 of Delphi. (And Turbo Pascal before that.) I'm retired now and looking for a good language + IDE + GUI framework tool for making compact Win 32 apps. I won't be a customer for megabucks tools but maybe there is a market for pgmer tools for individuals. That how Borland started.

    I'm not interested in .NET support or Eclipse plug-ins.

  19. Hi Allen,

    This is a very good observation. IMHO we should focus on making VCL better (unicode), as this is Delphi core strength and not forgetting about other platforms - what about updating Delphi for Linux compiler to the latest distros (not the whole Kylix IDE, just the compiler for time being)?

  20. Bring back Kylix so I don't have to use shitty open source stuff on Linux

  21. Just some thoughts..., I'm from a company that a some years ago port a Unix character based application into windows, the tool they choose was VB6, just because it was a Microsoft product; I always wanted it to be Delphi (back then it was Delphi 2.0.) but I wasn’t part of the decision making, my co-workers laugh at me every time I tried to make then see why Delphi was better, and had no other choice but learn that crappy VB6 and let that amazing tool behind. The funny thing now years later they have to re-write the application once again, the reason? VB6 won't be supported any more pretty soon.

    Then I about a month ago I found out about the free Turbo Delphi, I downloaded it right away, I love the new Delphi and even thought I’m learning C# right now, I went back from were I left and started learning Delphi once again.

    I can believe how ahead of it’s time Delphi was, it is just until now that MS created an IDE that is finally decent (slow though) and a nice language (C#), of course most of the features in both were already Delphi since version 1, but the thing that's bothers about the .Net stuff is that it is interpreted code. Hope Delphi catches up again and I think it is. Good luck Code Gear, there’s a lot of people like me out there who still likes lightning fast, smart, efficient and reliable software. Long live Delphi.

  22. I laud your tenacity. I am a firm believer that focused persistence pays off. People have to remember that Borland (now CodeGear) is still standing while there are a ton of development tool producers lying dead on the side of the road (BDS, JRT, JPI, Lattice, Watcom et. al).

  23. Allen, how true what you said is.

    There really is a lesson to be learned. Problem is, so far CodeGear has failed to show that it wants to learn it.

    You seem to understand Nintendo's strategy, you say you have a "single-minded focus", yet as things are, you want to take on Microsoft. You want to compete on .NET.

    Many people are going to buy the Wii, not because it's got the latest technology and highest resolution, but because it's highly playable and lets you play in a different, more efficient way even games that have always been around.

    You have it before your eyes:

    1. It doesn't take the latest technology to be a platform of choice.

    Translation: You don't need to bother with .NET. Win32 is still around and is going to be the most spread platform for native applications for many years to come. How many client applications written in .NET do you know of?

    2. To mess with your competitor's main objectives is a bad idea.

    Translation: You shouldn't mess with .NET. Microsoft has total control over it, it's always gonna be years ahead of you. Microsoft itself, as of today, has failed to establish .NET as a client platform. How is CodeGear's contribution going to change this? And if Microsoft succeeds, what are the chances that CodeGear would be competive in that field?

    There are basically two kinds of applications at the moment: client and web ones. For client applications, Borland had a wonderful tool called Delphi 7. Then it ruined it by introducing unneeded .NET features and by trying to copy their competitor's IDE, making it buggy, bloated and unfriendly. Why didn't Nintendo try to copy the PS3 or the XBOX 360, feature by feature? Why did they choose a different path? Microsoft left Win32 VB programmers out in the cold with VB.NET. CodeGear has a golden opportunity to gain that - may I say, HUGE? - market of Windows native applications programmers. Do you want to throw that opportunity away? How exactly is CodeGear trying to compete with a free, feature-complete IDE from the creator of the .NET technology itself, as Visual Studio 2005 Express Edition (and future versions) is?

    The solution is simple and clear: for client side applications, stick to Win32. Stick to things that people need, do them better then the others.

    So, you can learn something. Question is, will "Yoo"?

  24. I agree with the above posters. Make native development your USP. Let MS do their .NET thing and do something different. Concentrate on Win32/64 and native Linux.

    I'll never buy a .NET CodeGear IDE. I don't know anybody in my vicinity who would choose CodeGear over MS when it comes to .NET.

  25. Hope you don't follow the same naming style.

    The CodeGear Puu ???

    Seriously though, I think things are being overcomplicated.

    Produce innovative,high quality tools (and that most DEFINATELY includes Documentation/Help files) that are great to use, and CodeGear will succeed.

    I really think it's as simple as that.

  26. CodeGear must has it's own identity, no a VS replacement but a Dev Tool for developers.

    It should be good if Delphi changes to a ".Net supported" instead of a ".Net based" as the current IDE is. This move can make easy the transition to a Delphi for Linux/OSX.

    Maybe CodeGear could sell a Delphi Linux/OSX compiler and let the community work on a open IDE.

  27. CodeGear does have customers who are planning to use Delphi's .NET capabilities.

    My company has produced millions of lines of code in Delphi and we are currently building our applications under BDS 2006.

    It's likely that we will migrate all of our applications to VCL.NET over the next several years. Doing so will save us a large amount of money given a robust VCL .NET implementation.

    .NET 2.0 support for us is crucial - without it we would likely end up porting all of this to C#.

  28. We can learn from nintendos about dogs in nintendogs. we can learn math with sudokuhs

  29. We can learn from nintendos about dogs in nintendogs. we can learn math with sudokuhs.I sould say nintendos are the best thing i ever saw. so make sure they make more than enough. please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  30. Impatient Delphi LoyalistDecember 10, 2006 at 3:56 AM

    Mr. Jonathan Schwartz is a great example of a CEO who "get's it". He understands developers. He's been given a company that's been stuck in the mud but I think Mr. Schwartz has what it takes to make Sun successful again. Maybe CodeGear can learn something.

    A good example is this video:

    3 great things he mentions:

    1. Propagate availability of the technology because it lowers the barrier of entry

    2. We are in the business to earn the right to serve folks with binary distributions, the system infrastructure and all the stuff you pay for as opposed to stuff you play with.

    3. Developers want the innovation, the demonstrated roadmap, the availability to drive forward on a platform they can contribute to and as well as be a recepient of.

    CodeGear needs a CEO who sets the agenda, someone who isn't afraid to lay down the road maps, someone who doesn't defer and lastly, someone who understands developers.


  31. Impatient Delphi LoyalistDecember 10, 2006 at 4:27 AM

    Here's another one:

    "Capacity to differentiate their performance..if all you are going to do is stick your badge on someone else's intellectual property, you are going to fail because the folks with the capacity to innovate are the ones that have the capacity to differentiate and therefore prove themselves better to rise above the crowd and actually win your business."



Please keep your comments related to the post on which you are commenting. No spam, personal attacks, or general nastiness. I will be watching and will delete comments I find irrelevant, offensive and unnecessary.