Nintendo doesn't play by normal industry rules. Here's why that can be a good thing.
There seems to be a narrative among gamers and the industry regarding the Wii U. It is often more exciting to have negative news about the console rather than positive. This is just an unfortunate part of the industry. However, some have gone so far as to say Nintendo should have made the Wii U more powerful to perhaps rival Sony and Microsoft's next consoles, or to somehow conform more to industry standards. I disagree with these assumptions.
Nintendo has its own niche in the market, and it can't enter hardware warfare with Sony and Microsoft because it would lose. Unlike its competitors, Nintendo does not have a computer division, a smartphone division, a music player division, and so forth. The company lives and dies by gaming. If Sony or Microsoft's gaming division fails, at least those companies can fall back on their other divisions to soften the blow. Nintendo does not have such a luxury, so when I see people wanting Nintendo to match the next PlayStation and Xbox dollar for dollar and spec for spec, I wonder if they consider what would happen if Nintendo tried and failed. Do we really need three platforms so entirely similar on the market? That's why I support Nintendo differentiating itself from its competitors. It might cost them a bit of third-party support in the long run, but it also gives Nintendo an innovative edge over Microsoft and Sony—one that interests gamers and non-gamers alike.
The Wii U might not cost an arm and a leg to build, but Nintendo is still losing money on every console shipped and sold. Perhaps this is because of the Wii U GamePad and its features. Perhaps not. Regardless, the system is still a risk for the risk-adverse Nintendo. If they had built a machine as powerful as their competitors' next consoles, the risk would be much greater. Would the people who deride Nintendo as being casual or simply for kids care that the Wii U would be stronger? Probably not. Would Nintendo be in trouble if the hypothetical console did poorly—more so than if the current Wii U as it is now failed? Yes, probably.
We're in an industry where some games need to sell a couple million copies just to break even. This business model is simply unsustainable. For this reason, I encourage the more modest hardware of Nintendo's Wii U. Yes, I would have liked a beefy, future-proof system, but if it affects the future of Nintendo hardware for the negative, I wouldn't want to see it.
It is no secret that Nintendo builds its systems not for third-parties' software but for its own. Maybe this is why so many third-parties are having trouble properly porting games to the Wii U. Nonetheless, Nintendo knows its own hardware and how to make the most of it. It made popular the analog stick, rumble, wireless controllers, motion control, and so much more simply for their platforms. If Nintendo were to go third-party and had to make games on other hardware, I think the quality of its titles would greatly diminish.
Perhaps some are angry because Nintendo doesn't play by the normal rules of the industry and still succeeds. The simple truth of the matter is that Nintendo isn't your typical gaming company. Maybe the company's nature will come back to haunt it, but in the short term, Nintendo is poised to do some interesting things.