As a consequence of these things, Nintendo can continue to act and think like a toy company - a huge installed base is desirable, of course, because it makes the firm more profitable, but a smaller yet still profitable installed base is also fine. If Microsoft fails to get Xbox One into a huge number of households, it’ll be a major problem, since part of the reason for the system’s existence is to extend Microsoft’s dominance in the living room; if Sony can’t sell tens of millions of PS4 units pretty rapidly, that’ll also be a problem, since Sony (like Microsoft) relies heavily on third-party publishers supporting its console, and they won’t develop games for a system without a large addressable market. Yet Nintendo cares little about either of those factors, and could be reasonably satisfied with a “third-place finish” that still makes a handsome profit for the firm.
This is, in a nutshell, also the Apple argument (versus players like Microsoft or Android). The problem here is that, unlike Apple, Nintendo is no longer making these “handsome profits”.
I’ve yet to see an argument for how being last in sales with little-to-no profit makes for a good, sustainable business.