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Nintendo is releasing a new Switch in October. Are you surprised? You shouldn’t be. After all, this is the company that released six 3DSes over seven years. But the Switch OLED is nothing like the rumored Switch Pro we’ve heard so much about in various reports and leaks. Where is the support for 4K or the improved processor that supports Nvidia’s DLSS tech? Well, that’s not what this model is. But if you’ve been paying attention, a refresh like this was always possible and is in-line with what Nintendo has done before.
We also knew that a Switch like this was coming because it was already in the news. In March, Bloomberg reported that Samsung was starting production of 7-inch panels for Nintendo. And now that’s exactly what we are getting from the company in October. A revision like this is an opportunity for Nintendo to keep the product line feeling fresh. That in turn enables the company to reset pricing expectations among consumers.
“The Switch OLED edition is primarily designed to increase the appeal of Switch to new buyers, provide an incentive for Switch Lite owners to upgrade, sustain overall demand over the next year, and strengthen the pitch for Switch as a premium console worthy of its price point,” Niko Partners analyst Daniel Ahmad wrote on Twitter.
In the past, that would likely mean introducing a revision at the same price as the original hardware. But with the Switch continuing to sell so well, Nintendo has the luxury of increasing the price from $300 to $350.
The Switch OLED also gives Nintendo a simple pitch to both new customers and existing Switch owners: This system has a bigger and better screen. It’s very easy to make people care about a larger screen.
What about Switch Pro?
For many Nintendo fans, the Switch OLED is evidence that the long-rumored Switch Pro isn’t real. But that doesn’t make any sense. It is a normal strategy to release a revision to older hardware before doing a larger leap shortly after. Sony launched the PlayStation 4 Slim in September 2016 and the PS4 Pro in November 2016. Microsoft launched Xbox One S in 2016 and then the Xbox One X in 2017.
Companies do this because doing one revision helps them prepare for the next. It also ensures that if a Pro model is more expensive, then Nintendo can compare that against this more recent Switch OLED as opposed to something that is years old.
A source told me earlier this year that Nintendo was considering an upgraded Switch model for 2022. If that’s still on track, Nintendo may be considering a higher price point. The company would much rather say that a so-called “Super Switch” is only $50 more expensive than the Switch OLED from 2021 than $100 more expensive than the original Switch from 2017.
But any eventual Switch Pro would serve the same purpose as the OLED. And that is to get fans to spend money on more hardware because of a list of enticing features on the box. That then gets people to sell their old systems or to give them away to friends or family. In the end, Nintendo created a new Switch owner even if it did so by getting the same fans to buy its consoles yet again.
The biggest point is that Nintendo doesn’t need the Switch Pro yet to accomplish that goal. And most important, the Switch OLED can help set the stage for the next revision if and when that comes.
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