What it Iwata said: “...we will actively expand our character licensing business, including proactively finding appropriate partners… Also, we will be flexible about forming licensing relationships in areas we did not license in the past, such as digital fields, provided we are not in direct competition and we can form win-win relationships… By moving forward with such activities globally, we aim to increase consumer exposure to Nintendo characters by making them appear in places other than on video game platforms.”
What it likely means: Though Nintendo has hardly shied away from merchandise in the past, this new approach to sharing its franchises could have big ramifications. Yes, this might just mean more Zelda toys, or perhaps a full-on Metroid cartoon series, but this could also mean games. See, if Nintendo says it isn’t making real games for smart devices, then a mobile dev make a game with the Mario license wouldn’t be in direct competition. This would generate quick profits for Nintendo without having to cross the line of making mobile games themselves. It makes sense, though I bet Nintendo will be very selective in who it works with, and which regions will actually get those games upon completion.