Blog Post

Will Wii Remake the Web?

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?

29 Responses to “Will Wii Remake the Web?”

  1. 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.


  2. 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).”


  3. 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 (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 I can watch videos full screen on a tv on 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. Lamenababam

    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.

  7. 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.

  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.