Nintendo doesn't want to be Sega.

John Gruber has a great post on Daring Fireball about Nintendo. In it, he draws comparisons between Nintendo and Apple, Microsoft, Blackberry and Disney. He makes an excellent case that Nintendo should begin to license their popular games for iOS and other systems. 

But Gruber misses the one comparison that Nintendo executives see in their worst nightmares: Nintendo doesn't want to be Sega.

Sega was once a big player in the console market. The Sega Genesis was a hit. (I loved mine.) They had a very popular game franchise in Sonic the Hedgehog. And the Genesis was followed by the Saturn and Dreamcast. I actually owned a Dreamcast and it was a solid system, but slow adoption and increased competition led Sega to exit the console market in 2001 and license their games for other systems. 

Sega is still alive today and is doing well. In fact, you can buy all sorts of Sega games for the iPad, iPhone, Android and pretty much every console. (I played Sonic the Hedgehog on my iPad Mini earlier tonight.)

But people don't talk about Sega the same way they talk about Nintendo. Sega isn't a leader in the gaming industry anymore. There is a loss of prestige that comes with being "just another game manufacturer."

Nintendo obviously could survive selling their games as apps for iOS and Android. Gruber correctly points out that millions of fans would buy Nintendo games for iOS. But is Nintendo willing to accept losing the leadership role that they feel they have now.