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Summary:

This week, the Wii’s Internet Channel became fully operational, boasting improved features like manual zoom and collapsible toolbars, powered by Opera; judging by gamer site commentary, the reception from Wii owners is largely positive, with the only major gripe being it doesn’t (yet) support all the […]

This week, the Wii’s Internet Channel became fully operational, boasting improved features like manual zoom and collapsible toolbars, powered by Opera; judging by gamer site commentary, the reception from Wii owners is largely positive, with the only major gripe being it doesn’t (yet) support all the standard Web plug-ins. From one angle, this is just a nice online feature for Nintendo fans. But I think it’s a lot more than that — this could be the day when the PC begins losing its centrality to the Internet. (So goes the Wii, so goes the Web.)

Consider: according to a recent Merrill-Lynch study, by 2011, an astounding 30% of American households will own a Wii. If that estimate holds up (and given the Wii’s still-thundering sales figures, there’s no reason to doubt it), about one out of every three U.S. homes will soon have a new kind of Web browser sitting in their living room.

The obvious immediate objection, or course, is “who’s going to browse the Web without a keyboard?” The most obvious immediate answer: the very young, who already send text messages over their cellphones more than they send IMs over their computers. They’ll acclimate quickly to the keyboard-free Web, and being so popular, developers will figure out ways to integrate the Wii’s pointer/nunchuck controller to Web apps which make the experience increasingly intuitive. (Of course, Nintendo could always go the Xbox route, too, and add a keyboard peripheral for us old school Netizens.)

Couple the Wii’s Internet Channel with the company’s stylus-operated DS handheld getting an Opera browser in June, and it’s easy to see Nintendo becoming the dominant Internet hardware company a few years down the road. Couple that to the growing sophistication and popularity of Web-integrated cellphones, and it’s difficult to see the PC remaining our main means for accessing the Internet for much longer. And if the personal computer is no longer essential to the Internet, what happens to all the industries built around it?

By Wagner James Au

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  1. Jeffrey McManus Friday, April 13, 2007

    Anybody who says that anything will be this or that in technology in four years is full of it.

  2. three words:

    wii second life

  3. Taylan Pince Friday, April 13, 2007

    Meh… I have a Wii, I haven’t even used it in a month.

  4. GigaOM » Will Wii Remake the Web? « A Frog in the Valley Internet Stream Pulse Friday, April 13, 2007

    [...] GigaOM » Will Wii Remake the Web? [...]

  5. wii second life = Playstation Home?

  6. Jason Schramm Friday, April 13, 2007

    I definitely approve of the changes to the browser on the Wii. The biggest thing is being able to auto-hide the bottom toolbar. While I don’t browse much on my Wii it is nice to have the feature.

  7. Opera Watch – GigOm: Will Wii Remake the Web? Friday, April 13, 2007

    [...] the Web? By Daniel Goldman April 13th, 2007 11:27 AM EDT Over at the popular GigOm blog there’s a great article about the new Wii Opera-powered browser and how Nintendo can possibly become a major player as an Internet hardware company a few years [...]

  8. Actually, I’m pretty sure that Nintendo will release a Wii keyboard sooner or later, because they mention it in the Internet Channel’s help topics. The paragraph on the “-” button says that if you’re using the Wii keyboard, use the delete key instead.

  9. Revolutioniert Wii das Web? – Tobbis Blog – Aktuelles über Windows, Opera & Co. gebloggt von Tobias Steinicke Friday, April 13, 2007

    [...] GigaOM fragt »Will Wii Remake the Web?« [...]

  10. Wii = WebTV 2.0? :)

    I was a little surprised to find that the Internet Channel browser supports Flash video, which means it’s now really, really easy to watch YouTube and the like on the big TV in the living room, rather than just in the office or bedroom. I’m sure Google and bandwidth providers just love that…

    I’d like to see the Wii support more “home media” type options (playing/streaming MP3s, providing access to photos on a file server or another PC in addition to SD cards, etc.), but given the somewhat limited amount of memory on the Wii, that might be asking a little much.

  11. Totally agree with this, it will be the way of browing with in 4 years, maybe sooner..

  12. If only Adobe would update the Flash SDK to version 9!

    Nintendo and everyone else not using a PC (Win/Mac/Linux) is stuck with Flash 7 because that’s the only version available to license for mobile phones and devices.

  13. You can watch:

    1. DL.TV.
    2. Cranky Geeks.
    3. You Tube.
    4. Metacafe.

    Most if noy all of the Flash based stuff. Heck even Yahoo! LAUNCHcast Music videos, if Yahoo! would start coding their sites properly. Its a market Yahoo! would miss if they don’t.

  14. I use Opera on the desktop platform. It is truely a wonderful yet often ignored browser. I hope this would bring Opera exposure for Opera. If more web developers pay attention to Opera, the web would be a better place for Opera users.
    Ever so often I come across websites that do not work perfectly in Opera and 90% of the time its not even Opera’s fault!

  15. I tested the new browser last night. It’s better but not good enough for me to use as anything but a novelty.

  16. I love how people refer to the wii-browser as a mere novelty. what do you do with your home pc browser. I can play games specifically made for the wii on wiicade.com (from simple point and click) to platformers using the wiimote as a wireless nes controller and on a tv nonetheless. I can listen to legal commercial playlists that I create on finetune.com. I can watch videos full screen on a tv on youtube.com. Add tabs using wiiMinder. Some day I also hope to be able to use eyeOS for the wii (it works but crashes when you do too much). The inclusion of SVG and Widget support opens so many possibilities that it is an amazing machine. All on my TV. No keyboard to force me into one place.

  17. Wii for Web – Beck’s Cafe – Pull up a chair for coffee & chit chat on life, gender, technology & our world Friday, April 13, 2007

    [...] at GigaOM, Wagner James Au has his own thoughts on what the Wii will do in his article, “Wii will remake the web?” here’s some of his thoughts to tease you to go read the whole article: [...]

  18. Wii for Web – Beck’s Cafe – Pull up a chair for coffee & chit chat on life, gender, technology & our world Friday, April 13, 2007

    [...] at GigaOM, Wagner James Au has his own thoughts on what the Wii will do in his article, “Wii will remake the web?” here’s some of his thoughts to tease you to go read the whole article: [...]

  19. Shirley, you jest!

  20. Dan Kjaergaard Saturday, April 14, 2007

    Interesting thoughts. I’d love to see Wii as the dominant Internet HW company.

    However, I don’t see Nintendo being that ambitious. The Internet Channel will cost 500 Wii points from June (http://uk.wii.com/movies/internetchannel/).

    Who will pay for a browser in 2007 or 2011?

  21. Wagner, nice post I think we’re thinking along the same lines as I’ve written about Wii and StumbleUpon in Emergence Media’s “The Social Web Goes Mobile, and Gaming Consoles Too?”:

    “Nintendo’s Wii has seen to movements on territory that is usually found in traditional social media: 1) StumbleUpon Video; and 2) Online Group Polling.

    Nintendo’s Wii partnership with StumbleUpon Video creates an interesting integration of TV-based Entertainment Consoles (Wii) and StumbleUpon Video (Social Media Video).”

    Source:
    http://www.emergence-media.com/2007/02/quick-post-web-goes-mobile-but-console-too/

  22. GigaOM » Analyst: Microsoft’s Gaming Effort “Disastrous” – O RLY? Thursday, April 19, 2007

    [...] the Wii has revolutionary game functionality and Web browsing, the 360’s success as a next gen console will boost its appeal for downloading high-definition TV [...]

  23. GigaGamez » Archive Analyst: Microsoft’s Gaming Effort “Disastrous” – O RLY? « Friday, April 20, 2007

    [...] the Wii has revolutionary game functionality and Web browsing, the 360’s success as a next gen console will boost its appeal for downloading high-definition TV [...]

  24. One case why the Wii wins the competition against the Playstation could be this one: :-)

    http://www.denqfabriq.de/flimmerkiste/?p=26

    cheers.

  25. Here’s what I don’t understand; Why is a 2 piece joystick with accelerometers expected to keep a hold on the market for 4 years?

    Don’t get me wrong, I love the Wii. We play one almost every weekend when my friends get together. It’s the party console. On the other hand, the people I know who own one don’t ever touch it without company.

    The other consoles got blindsided, but how long until they release a competitive joystick?

    Additionally, you can hardly count out Sony so soon. As they build out the firmware, the device is getting more powerful by leaps and bounds.

    Just this weekend I tied my updated PS3 to my entire network. Two months ago you couldn’t do it, but now I’m streaming my MP3 collection to my surround sound through the ps3. I’m watching movies that are transcoded on the fly on my HDTV through it, with no video out card on the PC.

    The Wii is an amazing party toy, however; a web browser doesn’t make it an entertainment center.

    -Todd

  26. Ponderings – » Next-Gen Market Share (Japan) Wednesday, June 6, 2007
  27. GigaOM Opera Web Browsing Doesn’t Sing on the DS « Saturday, June 16, 2007

    [...] James Au Saturday, June 16, 2007 at 12:28 AM PT | No comments Talk about missed opportunities: after a lot of expectation, the Opera web browser for the Nintendo DS is finally out in the US, and the initial response [...]

  28. My 2008 Gaming and Online Worlds Predictions – GigaOM Saturday, December 22, 2007

    [...] the nichification of the 360 and PS3 will be complete, and with its wireless connectivity and web browsing features, the Wii’s preeminence as the living room PC will be [...]

  29. Wii’re All on the Web « MM Sunday, March 1, 2009

    [...] So last night I fired up my Wii for some pre-sleepytime tennis. It asked me if I wanted to download the new (Opera) internet browser for Wii, why not? The box gracefully phoned home and upgraded the Opera browser, and I ended up browsing the web for awhile on my HDTV from the couch, mostly video content from StumbleVideo, and rating it thumbs up or down. But it was fun, just mindless media snacking, and about 10 minutes later I was trying to understand if I enjoyed this more on my couch with a Wii remote in my hand, versus a laptop experience. Of course it depends on the content, but this blurring of internet into a more shared, social thing than you can do on a laptop was interesting. GigaOm has more to say on the topic: GigaOM » Will Wii Remake the Web? [...]

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