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Wii worry, convergence powers gaming ahead

Nintendo doesn’t need to do anything drastic to maintain the Wii’s relevance, it just needs to work on its hardware specs and its software and content ecosystems

When the Wii first came onto the market it was an instant hit, but the console gaming space is changing so fast Nintendo needs to rethink how it plays the innovation game for a converged world.

Where to now for Nintendo? Nowadays people are expecting more from their gaming console and the company is actually well positioned to take advantage of is market share.

Today the Wii’s biggest drawback is its diminutive hardware specs and options. There’s no high-definition playback and no significant built-in storage, and the app ecosystem hasn’t flourished like the other big two consoles.

While people have fun on the physical Wii games, PlayStation and Xbox owners are enjoying the option of HD playback, IP TV, music, video recording, social networking and even Foxtel.

Despite its late entry into the seventh-generation console market, Sony now ships a PS3 with 320GB of storage and the capacity has always been upgradeable as it uses a standard 2.5-inch notebook drive.

And with the arrival (albeit late by comparison with the Wii) of motion control in the Move and Kinect for PS3 and Xbox respectively, the Wii’s best differentiator is no longer a competitive advantage.

Both the PS3 and Xbox are now well-rounded “home entertainment devices” and the Wii is a languishing one trick pony.

Throw the “success” of Blu-ray over the past four years into the mix and consumers have another reason not to choose a Wii.

I know the Wii has carved out a new market for itself among people who wouldn’t have otherwise purchased a game console, but as the market has changed so much since it was first launched it will struggle to remain relevant in its present form.

Nintendo doesn’t need to do anything drastic to maintain the Wii’s relevance, it just needs to work on its hardware specs and its software and content ecosystems.

I’m sure every gamer has their own vision as to what the next-generation Wii should look like, but it’s now up to Nintendo to decide where it wants to take its flagship console.

And keep in mind if “Wii 2.0” does bring its specs up to those of the PS3 and Xbox its doesn’t need to toss out is original appeal in the process.

The Wii can still be “the gaming console for regular people” while increasing its appeal with the hardcore crowd and provide more options for home entertainment.

Slowing of demand for its products saw Nintendo’s profit fall for the first time in six years, IDG News Service reported back in May.

However, as recently as this week the company’s US chief has denied there will be a second-generation in 2011. Give the first was released in 2006, it’s beginning to look like a long time between drinks.

Sony and Microsoft on the other hand have consistently improved and added value to their consoles.

Nintendo is an innovative company, but in the modern converged world of gaming and entertainment devices consumers will begin to demand more and more from their console.

I can’t wait for Wii 2.0, let’s hope Nintendo can surprise us all by applying its innovative style to both gaming and home entertainment.

Innovation can happen via a revolution or in increments. Nintendo has proven itself a master of the former, but it’s the small changes that need more attention.

Rodney Gedda is Editor of TechWorld Australia. Follow Rodney on Twitter at @rodneygedda. Rodney's e-mail address is rodney_gedda@idg.com.au. Follow TechWorld Australia on Twitter at @Techworld_AU.

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