Chris Nuttall Apple, Nintendo in event face-off

Apple has shown its usual disdain for other events and companies’ plans in choosing to launch its second-generation iPad at the same time and next door to where Nintendo could make its own big announcement next Wednesday.

It is not inconceivable that a Wii 2 could be unveiled at the same time as an iPad 2, with Satoru Iwata, Nintendo chief executive, delivering the main keynote speech at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.

Media  invites went out on Wednesday to a 10am March 2 Apple event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater in the city centre to “Come See What 2011 will be the year of”. There is a teasing image of the top corner of an iPad and a cheeky map pointing out that the Yerba Buena Center is adjacent to the Moscone Center , where Mr Iwata will be speaking at around the same time.

This is reminiscent of Apple’s unveiling of the iPhone in 2007, nicely timed to steal the thunder of announcements at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Of course, Nintendo may not have any major announcements. Mr Iwata is likely to focus on the new 3DS handheld console, which launches in Japan on February 26.  He will be encouraging developers to create games for the new platform.

The E3 video game convention in June in Los Angeles is a more likely venue for the expected Wii 2 to be unveiled, but Nintendo has a quirky habit of doing the unexpected and a sneak peak of it at GDC is not out of the question. After all, this is where the original Wii was unveiled in 2006.

Covering both events at the same time could prove a challenge for the media, but it seems certain that the iPad 2, even if it only features minor hardware improvements such as the addition of a camera and a lighter body, is likely to be the device grabbing most of the headlines.