I believe whatever happens with the Switch, it's a move that will provide a stepping stone into whatever future Nintendo finds itself in. I haven't seen these thoughts posted yet, so here we go.
All previous architectures were custom designed, just like Sony's and Microsoft's. It was getting too costly so those two jumped ship into cheap PC based designs. Nintendo banked on it's old custom PowerPC architecture one last time and then, instead of moving towards the seemingly future proof architecture of PC's, they placed their bets on Mobile architecture.
Knowing that the real money lies in gaming on mobiles and tablets, they're giving themselves and their partners a chance to acquaint themselves with developing for what is essentially the same a mobile phone (ignoring Operating Systems).
Looking at this from a 3rd party point of view. All studios know the money is on mobile, so they're either developing very trimmed down versions already or keeping an eye out for the right moment to do so. Moving porting a game from mobile to the Switch (handheld mode) is going to be incredibly easy, possibly compatible to how studios current develop for XBox One and PS4.
Let's look at a few potential scenarios on the future of the Switch:
- The Switch is a hit: hurrah
- The Switch is meh: release a new, 'fixed' version with full backwards compatibility just by replacing the CPU and/or GPU with a later revision
- The Switch is a massive failure, Nintendo loses buckets off money and has to sell off it's hardware unit: they use their acquired knowledge, tools, infrastructure honed on the Switch and make the tiny step onto Mobile.
Somewhere there's a quote of Iwata, saying "they will become like brothers in a family of systems". Seeing as they invested on a platform which essentially is already a twin of the Nvidia Shield or the Google Pixel C, that's already true. But really I see this as a prediction that due to the minor investment in R&D with regard to the architecture (ARM & Tegra, not the stuff around it) and 100% backwards compatibility, releasing new form factors (e.g. a mini switch of a 4k console) will be the norm.
Discussion started at here by wvl0