Blog Post

Game Consoles, Web 2.0… Really?

The big story of last week was the launch of the two new gaming consoles, Sony PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii. With the launch of these two platforms, the gaming generation upgrade is near complete. So far, Nintendo is being viewed as the unlikely winner, and PlayStation 3 as the big loser.

Regardless of who wins, the proliferation of these new kind of networked devices makes you pause and think about the overall strategic implications of these devices, especially for the new-fangled Web 2.0 services.

Huh? Well, that would be my reaction, but hear me out. Both Wii and PlayStation are now shipping with internal browsers. Several other devices (PSP, Mylo, Nokia E and N Series phones) have almost fully featured browsers. In other words, we are transitioning from PC-as-browser-base to “browsers everywhere” reality.

The increase in the number of browser end points means more opportunities for companies that are offering web services – everyone from Google, Yahoo to Microsoft. A Meebo IM client designed specially to run on the Wii? Flickr slideshow application for Sony PlayStation 3, or a tiny widget for Yahoo Music for music playback?

Note from Liz: This week I stopped by Yahoo to meet with Patrick Barry, who directs the company’s digital home group. Barry talked about the thinking Yahoo has put into “the lean-back internet,” on a TV screen 10 feet away and accessed with the limited tools of a remote.

Barry toggled between a few DVR and media center setups, which included TV-ready Flickr slideshows and video search, saying everything but Yahoo groups, message boards, and shopping might find a life on the big(ger) screen. While most of the interfaces for these things are pretty terrible, the coolest mashup of TV and web services is for Yahoo’s popular fantasy sports leagues on Intel Viivs. Stats and league standings run alongside a sidebar, with chat (“smack talk”) coming in SMS-style. The idea is for sports fans to “leave the laptop out of your lap and eat your chips,” says Barry.

These web-based services (or widgets) can especially shine on connected devices like Wii and PlayStation 3. This is a thought I just cannot shake off! If you would like to share your thoughts, let us know.

The post first appeared as part of GigaOM Weekly email newsletter dated November 19, 2006

12 Responses to “Game Consoles, Web 2.0… Really?”

  1. This is just the inevitable consequence of web 2.0 and increased broadband penetration. Further the console makers are starting to understand that they can command the platform but not the market.

    Much like the music industry…

  2. Oh boy, Om you really don’t know how I was just about to contact you to read a piece on this but more on a Sony and MS’s next-gen gaming strategies relying on so called “hackers” old news. I just haven’t had the time to compile it because of my work schedule but this will open your eyes a little more on the subject.

    Take a look at the original Xbox 1 innovators in the homebrew community, namely XBMC (xbox media center). And do not confuse with the crappy Xbox Extender Microsoft rushed, I mean released in those days. My point is it evolved from the default scheme of Picture, Music, and Videos to another extreme. Back when I was into it it was discussed a lot throughout the homebrew community. We are talking 2004 here, way before PS3 or the 360 was on the market.

    WEB 2.0 is our (yes I was a homebrew idealist as well), in a a respectful manner is nothing new to us. It has just been given a name and a few innovating speakers to entertain and elaborate more, which is a nice process to form a new setting. Moreover it is important that we watch this community in the future, just as Bill Gates said in 2001 (article released in 2005)-

    “”How can we engage this community?” – instead of saying something like “How can we squash this?” It’s long been on the back of everyone’s minds in the Xbox group – how can we get students and hobbyists involved without disrupting the console business model? The good news is that it’s still on the radar, we’ll see what happens in the future.”

    The projects are still ever going on today and I will promise to update you via e-mail sometime Om. But for now this will more then enough open your eyes about the WEB 2.0 experience derived from open standards and open elaborative mines.

    Python scripts (widgets) –

    Much respect to XBMC, Avalaunch, FriendTech, and of course all the supporting cast in the homebrew scene.

    CyKiller still lives…

  3. Glen Carner

    “Play”Station or “Work”Station?

    Sony must have noticed the opportunity to chew away at the Media Center/Home market in addition to the XBOX360. What better way to lure the 18 to 34 (early adopter) crowd away from Microsoft’s other products then to offer a one-step install linux platform with the power of web 2.0 apps? Why not attempt to bury Microsoft in other areas while pretending your only focus is on their “game console?” I remember reading a while back that Sony and Google were doing some work around the Mylo and PSP. Did anyone care to mention the PS3 at that time?

  4. Are there any good media centers out there that incorporate plugins for new age video/music downloading services? I cannot stand using MCE because the music player on it sucks which is the case with most of the media center shells I have used. Any ideas?

  5. Correction – the PSP browser is nowhere near ‘fully featured’ in the current incarnation. The entire device has only 32 megs of RAM. The memory left over for the browser just scrapes by for basic web surfing, but is completely unusable on most complex web sites, as well as being slow as molasses.

  6. Hi

    “Browsers everywhere” is a clear trend, and the powerful new games machines will be able to go quite far in generating Video too. I have seen some fairly interesting lash-ups with just a PS2 in R&D stage, looking at the PS3 I think it will be very interesting what could be done.

    As to Lean Back Internet TV, I think this is the next major development for IP based TV (not IPTV…0.

    Here at Broadsight we have also been doing some tests with this sort of gear, I have put together a few notes on this (and PS3 as a STB) in some of the earlier posts in this section on MyPCTV

    I plan to finish a more formal writeup in the next few days about it.