Is There a Local Search App in Nintendo’s Future?

Today, Engadget (reporting on a Wall Street Journal article) discusses a recent Nintendo strategy presentation:

“… the WSJ is reporting on a recent and unusual high level, high impact strategy presentation where in top ‘Tendo execs revealed what’s described as a change in its current business model: using its foothold in the video game market to sell casual gamers and non-gamers products focused more on utilitarian functions. (…) What they want to sell Nintendo wouldn’t specifically say, but they’re focusing first on the flagship portable, the DS, rolling out what the WSJ describes as “features [that] will be useful in places like train stations, amusement parks or museums and [that] could be accessed wirelessly,” as well as a new “television-programming feature for the Japanese market… to check television listings, run searches by keyword and genre, and highlight each family member’s favorite programs.””

Qype Mobile on the Nintendo DS

Qype Mobile on the Nintendo DS, Flickr photo by Moe.

What it means: the Nintendo DS currently has an installed base of 53 million units worldwide. It’s Wi-Fi-enabled and there’s a version of the Opera browser available for sale (you need to buy a “game” cartridge to use it though). It makes sense that Nintendo is looking at “utilitarian” functions for the DS and location-based services are top of the list for mobile devices. Not a short term opportunity but monitor for future improvements. Pre-loading of the browser would create a killer app.

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Video (Content) Killed the Communications Star

(via Research Brief)

According to the Online Publishers Association, Internet users are spending nearly half their online time visiting content, a 37% increase in share of time from four years ago. The Internet Activity Index, conducted by Nielsen//NetRatings, shows that communications accounted for 46% of consumers’ time online in 2003. A dramatic shift has taken place since then, with consumers now spending 47% of their time with content and only 33% with communication.

OPA Internet Activities

The OPA found a number of other important factors behind the changes, including:

  • A more accessible, and much faster, Internet is driving increased overall time spent online.
  • The increased popularity of video is leading to more time being spent with online content.
  • The improvement in search allows consumers to more easily and quickly find the exact content they are looking for, increasing the likelihood they will engage more deeply with that content.
  • The Web simply offers far more content than it did even four years ago, increasing content’s share of time.
  • The rise of instant messaging (IM) as a key communications tool has been a factor in communication’s reduction in share of time. IM is a more efficient communications vehicle than email.

What it means: for anyone who doubted the strength of the content tidal wave (professional and user-generated), these numbers leave no doubt. If you are traditional media, make sure your offline content is ready for the web and published there as well. Create also web-specific content and allow users to comment, tag and contribute additional content. And don’t forget that content can be accessed using non-traditional platforms: mobile, Nintendo Wii, etc.

Cartoon Network to Distribute Cartoons on Videogame Consoles

(via The Hollywood Reporter)

The Cartoon Network’s new-media arm is expanding its games distribution to video game consoles through a new browser application developed at AFI’s Digital Content Lab. By early 2008, the new “Mega Series” window will deliver an interactive video and gaming experience to such broadband-enabled consoles as Sony’s PlayStation 3 and Nintendo’s Wii as well as to PCs. Additionally, the application can be adapted for distribution to a broad array of devices, including mobile phones.

Cartoon Network is the first television network to use Adobe’s Flash technology to reach the massive console audience. Mega Series programming will be based on Cartoon Network and Adult Swim TV shows. The content is being designed to be played simultaneously with streaming video and delivered episodically over time. Ross Cox, senior director of entertainment products, Cartoon Network New Media, said this initiative effectively demonstrates how the console browser can be utilized as a new distribution platform.

In related news, Animation Magazine talks about a new cartoon series from Comedy Central called “Lil’ Bush”. It’s promoted as “the first original mobile program to migrate to primetime TV”.

What it means: Cartoon Network clearly sees the potential of these new home entertainment devices that connect to the Web. BTW, Merrill Lynch is forecasting that by the year 2011, nearly 30 percent of all U.S. households will own a Wii. They believe it will reach a third of Japanese households. So, make sure your content is available for these new platforms. On the “Lil’ Bush” news, I like the concept of building something online (or mobile) and then porting it to offline (TV in this case) if it’s successful. A great way to trial for without spending huge TV production budgets.

Bill Gates: Print Yellow Pages Will be Dead in Five Years

Went to bed yesterday reading this article from the Seattle Times. The paper reports on a speech Bill Gates gave to some of Microsoft’s top advertising customers. Other than the usual story of newspapers demise, there was an interesting tidbit about print directories.

The traditional Yellow Pages are doomed as voice-activated Internet searches combined with on-screen interfaces on smart mobile devices get better and proliferate, Gates said. The company’s recent acquisition of voice-technology provider TellMe is accelerating the trend. “When you say something like ‘plumber’ the presentation you get will be far better than what you get in the Yellow Pages,” Gates said. “After all, we know your location and so we can cluster [results] around that. … Yellow Page usage amongst people in their, say below 50, will drop to near zero over the next five years.”

What it means: knowing how strong the print directory ecosystem is, I would be very surprised if it became completely irrelevant in the next five years. I’m also surprised Gates would come out so strongly and say their TellMe acquisition means they’re competing directly against directory publishers, especially at a time when people are starting to root for Microsoft to counter FOG. In any case, if you are in the directory space, you have to make sure you’re not solely dependent on one medium. Like the Kelsey Group used to say (and I’m paraphrasing), “don’t sell in the medium, sell in the database”. That means making sure your content can be accessed via different entry doors like print, online, voice, mobile, instant messenging Nintendo Wii, search engines, etc. As entry doors multiply, make sure you hedge your bets by being present in these various access points.

Is Your Site Wii-Ready?

Finally got my Nintendo Wii, the latest game console from the Japanese videogame giant. I’ve had a few weeks to play with it and I believe Nintendo might have stumbled upon an Internet surfing killer-app (with or without knowing it). The Wii comes pre-loaded with a version of the Opera browser and you can easily surf the web on your TV from your couch using the very imaginative wii-mote.

I ended up spending 2 hours on Saturday night watching all sorts of clips from YouTube and other video sites. It also made me think in terms of business opportunity. Most sites are currently not configured for the TV screen. You can access them but user experience is not optimal. Given that the Wii installed base is growing like crazy (5.84M consoles sold since November) and that Nintendo expects to sell 14M more in the next 12 months, this console will de facto become an important tool to access web content.

In addition, Nintendo will put energy behind the web access aspect of the Wii as we can see from this Gamespot quote: “As for the Wii, the company said it “will further intensify Wii’s ‘Channel’ concept which already includes the abilities for the Wii owners to create their caricatures, view weather forecasts, news, and surf the web. Wii will encourage communication among family members as each of them can feel something relevant to themselves and be motivated to turn on the power everyday in order to enjoy ‘the new life with Wii.'”

What it means: given the large installed base of the Nintendo Wii, make sure you have a wii-enabled (wiinabled?) version of your site. You’ll need larger font size and bigger buttons. From a design point of view, you can inspire yourself by looking at DVD menu screens. Promote the fact that you’re wii-compatible on your home page and reach a new user base surfing the web in their living room.