LONDON – “Mario is running toward his next goal: iPhone.”

So said Shigeru Miyamoto, who designed the ubiquitous Italian American plumber and cash dispenser, as he took over and eclipsed the launch of the new iPhone.

“Nintendo is running all the way to the bank,” said investors, who fell over themselves to buy the Japanese company’s shares like fanbois outside an Apple store. The reaction of the markets to the new iPhone itself was more muted. “We’ll see,” said investors, whose expectations have been bumping along the floor.

Their launch day reaction to new iPhones has traditionally been muted. But initial scepticism has typically been followed by surprise when the sales figures come in. Those figures will need to be really good this time around to blow away the clouds rumbling over Apple’s stock.

The tech giant has a problem that might be even bigger than the gazillion Euro tax bill from the European Commission, that landed on its doormat in the wake of its sweetheart deal with Ireland being ruled illegal.

Reports have been circulating of big, blue chip, investors pulling out. The shares usually soar in the run up to an iPhone launch before dropping a bit on launch day. This time around they didn’t do that.

Regardless, it’s Mario, the breathless little plumber, that’s getting people excited. Can he give Apple CEO Tim Cook some breathing space?

Well, Apple does have first dibs at the game. An Android version is on the way, but if Super Mario Run creates even half the buzz surrounding Pokemon Go there will be people who will reach for the new iPhone just to get their mits on it. Oh, you’ve got a Samsung? Tough luck. Look at my shiny new iPhone with Mario Run. Catch up!

Apple’s problem is its technology isn’t going to do the job on its own. Yes, there’s the dual lens camera and the hope that people will splash out on ugly looking AirPod headphones designed to compensate for the lack of a socket on the new phone (the jack that allows you to use traditional headphones is clunky). The touch sensitive tech has been improved. There are stereo speakers. It’s an upgrade.

Nintendo is clearly the biggest winner from the launch of the iPhone 7. Still, Mr Cook can be thankful for small mercies. At least the Miyamoto magic has diverted attention from the vexed question of Apple’s tax affairs.

While Apple wants you to can the traditional headphone plug, and buy pricey buds that’ll fall out of your ears if they’re anything like mine, Nintendo is giving the punters something they really, really want. It’s been listening to consumers.

Perhaps Mr Cook could give it a try. Once the tax bill has been paid of course.

– The Independent via IOL

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