February 1st, 2007, 23:04 Posted By: wraggster
In the two months since Nintendo's new console launched, gamers have gained access to several entertaining and informative Wii Channels, or simple downloadable programs -- very much like widgets -- that open up new functionalities. The Mii, Photo and Shop Channels shipped with the platform and provided users the option to create virtual versions of themselves as well as their friends and family; store, edit and send photos to friends; and browse through a catalog of downloadable classics respectively. Since then, the Big N has added the Forecast Channel, which provides semi-live weather updates; the Internet Channel, a full-fledged Wii version of the Opera web browser; and most recently, the News Channel, which provides users a gateway to the latest Associated Press headlines from around the world.
Wii's innovative new controller has already captivated millions of gamers, but clearly the Channels interface is also providing reasons for the hardcore and casual user alike to boot up their system on a daily basis. Nintendo itself has indicated that more Wii Channels will be forthcoming, but it has yet to offer specifics. And therefore we're here to fill in the gaps. Taking Nintendo's own model to heart, we've thought about some of the widget-like additions to the Wii Channels interface that would make our mornings a little brighter and our evenings a little easier. Readers like you have backed our concepts with some great mock-ups to help visualize the possibilities. We're not suggesting that these Channels are currently under development -- they very well might be, but Nintendo isn't talking. We are, however, suggesting that they should be.
Wii Stocks Channel
Nintendo is quite obviously hoping to capture more non-gamers with its Wii Channels. The News Channel grabs the latest AP headlines and doesn't even feature a dedicated gaming feed of news. Clearly, it's not targeted at the hardcore sector. That being true, why not offer a stock ticker interface that enables users to monitor their portfolios online?
There's nothing like a cup of coffee, some news, a bit of weather, and some stock watching, we say. Or, we would if we owned stock in anything besides Enron -- d'oh! The Wii Stocks Channel could easily monitor your hottest stocks, feature a symbol search, show rises and drops in performance, and display more detailed info at a click. Little Billy might ignore this feature as though it were a sequel to Cosmic Race, but moms and dads around the world could surely appreciate it.
Wii Movie Search Channel
Not everybody has money in Apple, Inc. -- although, really, they should. That said, most of us do enjoy a good movie. Normally, we turn to the Internet to find movie listings and show times, but why not simply power on the Wii to gain access to this information quickly and easily? There's no reason why it shouldn't be a possibility, especially since there are already widgets available for PC and Mac that grab feeds of this data.
Users could simply enter their zip code and Wii would work with a partner like 777Film or Fandango to do the rest, intuitively compiling a list of local theaters and movie show times. A handy search function could even allow you to look for the latest showings of Halo: The Movie -- although we don't think you'd find many returns on that one just yet.
Wii Movie Trailers Channel
In a perfect world, the Movie Trailers and Movie Search Channels would be integrated into one big, beautiful offering, but we're realists and frankly, Nintendo hasn't exactly gone above and beyond with its other Channels. They all display useful information, but their functionality is also regularly limited. So, if a Movie Trailers Channel needs to be its own entity, no problem. We can live with that. But regardless, it would be very handy if Wii could download and display 640x360 QuickTime trailers.
And on top of that, we'd love to see Nintendo partner with Apple, not just because we are Steve Jobs' love child, but because Apple has the best movie trailers website on the Internet, period. Currently, Wii does not playback QuickTime movies so future compatibility would rest upon a firmware update.
DS Demos Channel
Sony's already offering downloadable PSP games through the PlayStation 3 online network. Nintendo needs to get the same thing going for DS and sooner rather than later. A DS Demos Channel seems to be the ideal solution. Users interested in gaining DS demos could simply click on the Channel, choose the demo they'd like to try out, download it to Wii, and then wirelessly transfer the preview to their handheld.
DS owners would, of course, need to remember that any transferred demos would go bye-bye as soon as they powered off their handheld, but even with the limitation, the prospect of being able to try new DS software before it officially hits retail is every bit as enticing now as it's been since the portable released. A Channel like this one could only strengthen the relationship between handheld and home console, which is bound to have beneficial sales results for both.
Wii Sports Page Channel
Sure, there's a sports section in the Wii News Channel, but sports fans would agree that it barely scratches the surface of all the information available. Only a dedicated Wii Sports Page Channel could display all the latest news and all the sought after stats. Users should be able to organize the page by their favorite sports, tracking their choice teams, players, and more. A quick glance at the page every morning could easily bring even the most die-hard sports fans acceptably up-to-date on their favorite team's goings-ons.
And Many, Many More...
Readers have already said that they would love a zipcode-based pizza delivery channel, which was a bit too specialized for us to include as a standalone option in today's feature. That noted, it does raise an interesting point, which is that there is an audience for all sorts of different Channels, some more specific than others. With that in mind, we really think that the future of Wii Channels should rest in the hands of Nintendo and various third parties. If Nintendo were to create a Channels Marketplace, users could choose from hundreds of widget-style Channels crafted by the Big N and an assortment of studios. Do we think it'll happen? We'd be surprised. Nintendo is notoriously controlling and unlikely to relinquish its stranglehold on the Wii Channels interface. But we can certainly dream.
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