Previous 4" model: https://i.imgur.com/VNAUS7z.png
Citigroup analysts said in a research note to investors seen by Bloomberg that a Switch Mini might debut in the fiscal year through March 2019.
”Although the Nintendo Switch can be used as a handheld device, we think smaller children could struggle to use it comfortably in that format due to its size and weight," the analysts said. ”Accordingly, we think Nintendo will launch a lighter, dedicated handheld version of the Switch, possibly to be called the Switch Mini."
So, this has been discussed in other thread. Clearly people are divided about it. I tend to agree with Citigroup, more because of price than size, but both matter.
Availability (or lack thereof) aside, Nintendo currently sells 4 consoles:
Nintendo 2DS - $79,99
Nintendo New 3DS - $199,99
Nintendo New 3DS XL - $199,99 (what the hell, same MSRP nowadays lol)
Nintendo Switch - $299,99
All of them with different degrees of complexity, hardware level, size, and price. Out of the 3DS family, the XL is the most sold unit IIRC, but the 2DS also sells a lot. Price matters. 2DS got to a low price by reducing complexity, it doesn't have moving parts, it doesn't have a 3D display, it doesn't even have stereo speakers.
Nintendo Switch is brand new and sells at full $300 price with a dock, 2 Joy-cons and a large 6.2" IPS HD display. Because of this price more akin to home consoles, and because the Wii U died off, the hybrid side that is being used to market it is the home console one. But not even counting efficiency gains, there's loads room for Nintendo to iterate other versions and get cheaper, when:
- Sales need a kick
- 3DS needs to die off
By then the Switch will directly aim at the general handheld market as well, marketing-wise.
Dockless SKU: this is a simple method to try and reach the $250 price-tag, even if it doesn't save Nintendo exactly $50. Now, some people will say that a dock costs $1 or $2 or is even free or whatever. But it's not quite right. The dock is mostly plastic yes, but that's not where lies the main cost of it, but rather on the electronics: a USB-C to HDMI + 3 USB-A + USB-C power passthrough hub isn't cheap from any known brand (from Apple to Anker) so lets move on with that. From the cost in electronics to the reduced production complexity by not including one with every Switch, to the smaller and lighter box the absence of it allows, there are savings to be had.
But then it's not a Switch? No, it's still a Switch. You can still use it with the dock. But "now" you're not forced to buy the dock so you have more options, so everyone wins. By the time this happens everyone knows well what the Switch is and you know why yours cost $250 and not $300 like the other next to it.
This is, though, not too radical. By the time the 3DS, and especially the 2DS dies off there's a MASSIVE hole in the market that Nintendo needs to fill. Maybe it's not possible to get to $80 but going under $200 seems essential, especially when Pokémon hits (not necessarily Pokémon Stars, but next-gen Pokémon when it drops 3DS support).
Enter the 2DS for the Switch: Switch mini. Simpler, smaller, accessible for kids.
Massively reduces production complexity and materials:
No Joy-cons. Integrated controls. This saves 2 bluetooth chips, one IR camera, 2 batteries, at least one gyro.
Because it has built-in controls and not Joy-cons, it can have a real d-pad.
And still, I think there would be no problem with it being called a Switch. Switch is a platform, it's brand, and by then even more of an established one. There is a SUV called "Mini" nowadays. As long as it's well marketed, it will be fine.
Also, in my opinion, something like this could and should be compatible with the whole range of Switch hardware, from dock to Joy-cons. I can see the dock being a challenge though, since I don't know how a small console with built-in joysticks could fit in it. Any thoughts?
Now, I was going to post it side by size with PSP (4.3") and PS Vita (5") but by the time I completed the mock-up I felt like 4" is a bit too small. 4.5" to 5" likely ideal, to get almost to the overall volume of Switch main unit (sans Joy-cons), which should suffice regarding the thermal envelope. But I'll not readjust it today, too much trouble
Some colours for good measure.
Sorry for this, and sorry if the text is a bit confused. I just thought it could be a fun talk to have and then revisit in 1 or 2 years.