Apple’s iPhone announcement events are an annual celebration of America’s most profitable company.
They have become a sort of tech tradition in the past few years, with an expectation of a mid-September event with a new iPhone launching soon after. Such is the case with the iPhone 7.
Each year, that tradition feels a bit more staid, a bit more forced.
But this year, Apple had a secret up its sleeve that was even more exciting than a new iPhone:
For years people have speculated about if and when Nintendo’s most iconic game character would head to Apple’s ubiquitous devices; for so many years, in fact, that people have stopped wondering.
Nintendo’s made plain over and over that a move to mobile could mean the devaluing of its extremely valuable intellectual properties: Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Donkey Kong, and other gaming classics. Nintendo is basically the Disney of video games.
“In the digital world, content has the tendency to lose value, and especially on smart devices, we recognise that it is challenging to maintain the value of our content,” late Nintendo president Satoru Iwata told Time Magazine in 2015. “It is because of this recognition that we have maintained our careful stance.”
That was a softening of the company’s previous stance. Nintendo isn’t “late” to the mobile game market as much as it has tried to ignore the world of mobile gaming altogether.
Which is why it’s such a huge deal when the original creator of Super Mario, Shigeru Miyamoto, was introduced by Tim Cook on Apple’s stage on Wednesday. It was, by far, the biggest news out of Apple’s big event. And it didn’t even concern Apple, really.
AirPods are fine and all, but they’re just an evolution of the same Apple earphones you’ve been using since you bought an iPod. And hey, a new, shinier-than-ever iPhone is nice, but, well, it’s another iPhone. Wasn’t there a new one of those last year?
In the case of Nintendo’s news — that the father of Super Mario is leading production on “Super Mario Run,” the first mobile game starring Super Mario — it’s the beginning of a tectonic shift for the world’s most important video game company.
Look no further than financial markets for an idea of the impact that Nintendo’s news had compared with that of Apple’s:
Nintendo’s stock got a huge bounce based on the news, putting the Japanese game maker’s stock back near “Pokémon Go” mania-levels.
And this is all before “Super Mario Run” even arrives on the App Store. We don’t know when that game launches on iOS, by the way, but there’s a way to get notified as soon as it’s available.