Wii U hasn't yet gone on sale, but already Electronic Arts' ex-COO Bing Gordon believes that Nintendo is "already on track" to bow out of the hardware business.

"I think Nintendo's already on track to become primarily a software company," Bing told GamesIndustry.

"We saw that with Sega back in the day; Sega made some missteps and became primarily a software company. Nintendo hasn't really made missteps, Nintendo probably has better creative talent and better leadership now than Sega did. It's got the most robust business model, the best creative talent; Miyamoto's still the best in the business."

But rather than Microsoft or Sony, Gordon believes Nintendo's greatest competitor is Apple thanks to the steps they've taken in the handheld market.

"Apple's most directly competitive with Nintendo," he continued. "So far, when Miyamoto makes a perfect game, in his career he makes games worth $200 - it's worth buying a system for.

"I think the handheld is going to be under a lot of pressure. I can imagine a day when Nintendo wonders - and maybe it's generational change - when Nintendo wonders if they ought to take some of their best games and make them apps."

"That will be stunning," he added. "Neither Apple or Nintendo - both those companies like control - is likely to want a partnership, but a partnership would be stunningly cool."

Gordon believes that Nintendo can still sustain a proprietary platform "as long as Miyamoto's coming to work".

"He's that good."

If Nintendo were to become a third-party publisher, the move would echo SEGA's decision to become a software-focussed company in the early noughties.

SEGA announced that it would be leaving the console business to become a third-party publisher in 2001, following debt accrued by its failures with Dreamcast and Saturn.

Nintendo reported its first annual loss in April of this year, owing to flagging sales of its Wii console.

Its next console, Wii U, is due to go on sale later this year.