Nintendo says it wants its Nintendo Network to be its own platform, separate from hardware, like Steam or PSN.
As digital downloads started to come to the forefront over the last console generation, one of the biggest criticisms towards Nintendo was the fact that it's "Nintendo Network" IDs were tied to a specific piece of hardware, rather than being a unified account. It took steps to remedy this earlier in the year, allowing users to combine IDs across the Wii U and 3DS, but now it looks like it is going to separate Nintendo Network IDs from hardware entirely, giving us something more like Steam or PSN.
Nintendo President Iwata revealed these plans at the same business briefing that unveiled the upcoming QOL platform. He also said that Nintendo would be releasing an official smartphone app, and one of the main reasons for seperating the Nintendo Network from hardware was so it could interact with this new app.
Iwata said that Nintendo must emulate Android and Apple's single architecture across various devices, so that handhelds and portables no longer exist in separate ecosystems, but are like "brother and sister."
Iwata claims that the company's upcoming smartphone services aren't about making money, or bringing Mario to smartphones, but about better communicating with current and potential Nintendo customers. He stated several times during the briefing that Nintendo characters will not be appearing in stand-alone smartphone titles.
Of all the news to come out of this announcement, this is probably the most appealing to hardcore Nintendo fans. In the past, if your Wii U with thousands of dollars worth of Virtual Console games went kaput, you would lose everything unless Nintendo was able to restore your system.
Hopefully, this also finally buries the dreaded "friend code" system.