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Summary:

After an hour of laughing my ass off to a dozen monkey videos, I pretty much decided I’d just happened into the next killer app for online videos since YouTube itself. Launched last Feburary (Liz blogged about it then) Stumble.TV is StumbleUpon’s version of StumbleVideo, except […]

Stumblee video on WiiAfter an hour of laughing my ass off to a dozen monkey videos, I pretty much decided I’d just happened into the next killer app for online videos since YouTube itself. Launched last Feburary (Liz blogged about it then) Stumble.TV is StumbleUpon’s version of StumbleVideo, except tailored for the Wii. Once you direct your Wii’s Opera browser to the site, videos start playing on your TV, one after the other. You get to choose from several channels showing thousands of videos, and like the Web version of Stumble, you can give each one an up or down rating, using the Wii’s controller button. (See pic.) Your Wii-based ratings are cookied, and if you have a StumbleUpon account, they’re stored there; you can rate without an account, but after 150 votes, a dialog box pops up and suggests that you register.

Right now the site is showing some 200,000 of the Stumbled community’s very highest-ranked videos, mostly from YouTube (with some from Metacafe, Google Video, and MySpace) and so when you hit Play, you get a stream of quality content on your television. When I got around to trying it out recently, I was expecting a cute widget; instead, it suggests a whole new way of watching TV— like a folksonomic TiVo, or channel surfing on steroids.

As a technology, Stumble.TV solves at least two problems that have been impeding online videos as a full-fledged medium. Everyone loves watching a good one, but digging through so much chaff takes time. And everyone, I think it’s fair to say, would rather watch videos on their couch, than at their desk. As to why I think this is primed to go YouTube big, consider how genuinely huge the Wii’s install base is expected to be. According to a Merrill Lynch analyst, by 2011 it’ll be in 30% of households in the U.S.. With enough hooks and added functionality, I can easily see Stumble-for-Wii grabbing much of that audience.

But does StumbleUpon, which was bought by eBay earlier this year, know what a potential disruptor they’ve got here? A few days ago I chatted with co-founder and Chief Product Officer Garrett Camp, to get his take.

Whipped together with Ajax over a few weeks, the interface is customized for the Wii, but the underlying technology remains Stumble Video, Camp tells me. The company was looking for a way of porting that service onto something other than a computer, and he says, “the Wii was an obvious first choice because the browser was built in and wireless was built in.” StumbleUpon currently has about 4 million users, a million of whom use the Video channel, a fraction of that who use the Wii interface. (He declines to give concrete user numbers, but then, they haven’t been promoting it much since the February release.) Talking with Camp, my strong sense is that they see their Wii spin-off primarily a test for other platforms (Camp mentioned iPhone as a future possibility), not as an end in itself. When I told Garrett how much the Wii’s install base had grown since February, from roughly 2 million to about 16 million (according to VG Chartz), he seemed genuinely surprised.

In any case, they’re planning to add more video feeds to the Wii service, as long they’re embeddable. “We’ve been contacted by pretty much every video provider”, he says. “Long-term we think video is going to be a big thing.” They’re planning to add their entire archive of Stumbles to it soon. “Once you see it come online,” Garrett Camp tells me, “it’ll be a completely different experience.” I have to agree with him there.

See also: Our recap of our NewTeeVee Live search and discovery face-off, where Camp and StumbleUpon were the crowd favorite.

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  1. We recently had a conversation about this over at the videoblogging group, titled “Forget Apple TV – What about the Nintendo Wii ??”:
    http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/videoblogging/message/67036

    There are a few technical challenges, mainly Adobe needs to upgrade their SDK support for Opera from 7 to the latest version. Hopefully, this solves some memory issues.

    The numbers are staggering for the Wii – why are so many people talking about Facebook when the Wii is growing at an even larger rate??

    Maybe some of the cable providers and set top box manufactures will take note of this trend and also offer built-in browsers and WiFi. :)

  2. Ive said since last December when I first saw Joost that the Joost UI is perfectly suited to the Wii and the On screen keyboard could be used for searches .

    The Wii may not be powerful enough for the existing versions of Joost ,but Joost needs to be migrating to the living room within the next year and have a large install base with user that leave thier machines for a long time (Wii Connect) even with the Wii’s limited storage space the numbers of Wii in the market could counteract that .

    Im hoping that a content distributor has a good look at the Wii in 2008 and develops a WiiWare channel and the cost of Wii development is fairly low compared to other game consoles .The Wii remote only needs to replicate the fucntions of a mouse but they could throw in some tilt funtions so you could scroll though channel listings like the 3d mouse on Linux MCE..

    Reggie Fils-Aime said that there Wii be some game related channels and non game related channels on WiiWare in 2008 so heres hoping that Joost ,Hulu or anyone else developing a content distribution service is looking at the Wii in 2008.

  3. Thanks for the heads up. Stumble.TV rocks.

  4. I gave Stumble.tv a try tonight and really liked it. It looked pretty good and the only thing I had problems with was when metacafe videos came up. Hopefully the flash player gets upgraded soon so we can enjoy videos from all the video sharing sites. Theres so much potential with the Wii and I hope that nintendo updates a few things to make it even better.

  5. We have a version of ffwd running on a Wii in our “living room lab”. The problem we’ve encoutered is the Wii version of Flash is perpetually behind the the content sources.

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