This case has been made before, but this article does a good job of analyzing all the moving pieces.
In my view, access to the Nintendo game catalog on iOS would strike a major blow to Samsung. Having Pokemon, Mario, Zelda, and their many friends exclusively tied to iOS would likely provide the most significant point of software differentiation between the two rivals.
Why an acquisition though as opposed to an exclusive deal? Well, I imagine Apple (or Google or Samsung) would certainly be willing to pay a vast sum for exclusive smartphone rights to the Nintendo catalog. The problem is that as long as Nintendo is unwilling to give up on their own hardware business, they will likely refuse to risk cannibalizing their own sales. Maybe management (perhaps activist shareholder driven) will one day consider that software only business model is right for Nintendo, but until then an acquisition may be the only way for Apple to lock down Mario.
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