Nintendo has been largely silent about its upcoming replacement for the Wii U, codenamed NX, since it offhandedly announced its existence back in March. The only real hint of news for the system since then has been Square Enix's surprise announcement of Dragon Quest XI's development for the system.
Now, the Wall Street Journal cites unnamed insider sources in reporting that development kits for the console are currently going out in advance of a launch "as early as next year." That timeline isn't all that surprising given the timing of Nintendo's announcement (and its declared plans to officially reveal more about the console next year). What is somewhat surprising is a handful of vague details about the system's design, relayed to the Journal by "people familiar with the development plans."
Those sources suggest that the NX will integrate a TV-based console with "at least one mobile unit that could either be used in conjunction with the console or taken on the road for separate use." There has been plenty of speculation that Nintendo will look to consolidate its struggling console business with its successful portable efforts in this way, but this is among the more concrete suggestions that such a plan is in the works.
The Journal's sources also said Nintendo would aim for "industry-leading chips" that could provide top-of-the-line performance rather than cheaper, lower-powered hardware like that on the Wii and Wii U. It's hard to see how that kind of hardware could be easily integrated with a console/portable hybrid plan without driving the system's price up significantly. Then again, maybe Nintendo is ready to stop being the low-priced alternative to the "serious" console competition.
The NX was announced as "the new hardware system with a brand-new concept" by late Nintendo President Satoru Iwata earlier this year. It's unclear how Iwata's recent passing will affect plans for the system or Nintendo's previously announced pivot to "quality of life" health-focused products. A 2016 launch for the NX would come roughly four years after the launch of the Wii U. That's short compared to the seven-to-eight-year gaps between Sony and Microsoft's latest consoles. It wouldn't be unprecedented, though; the original Xbox and Sega's Saturn both saw their successors launch roughly four years later, after they struggled to gain much market traction.