So far we’ve had two breakdowns of the Wii U: Both the information Nintendo dropped and a look at what its ambitions might do to the company. One thing we didn’t talk about was how this entire press conference was essentially Nintendo bursting buck naked into the TV set-top box wars, covered in war paint, screaming “HOW YOU LIKE ME NOW?!”
Because while the presentation of Nintendo TVii may have been boring to gamers, it certainly wasn’t boring to Apple or Google, especially the part where they discovered along with everybody else that the toy company from Japan had delivered everything they’d been promising for years.
Nintendo TVii, aside from being the most awkwardly named product in the company’s history, is essentially a ridiculously advanced remote control. The Wii U interacts with your streaming services, your TiVo, and your cable box to, essentially, point you towards absolutely everything you might be interested in watching. It centralizes all of this in your profile.
Yes, “centralizes.” Say you get recommended Arrested Development because you’re the last person on Earth who hasn’t at least watched an episode, and you tap on it. The Wii U will ask you if you want to record reruns to TV, buy it from Amazon Instant Video, or stream it from Netflix. Press which one you want and roll. You can even add a “show” button to your remote to just press that and go instantly to what you want to watch.
It sounds almost stupidly simple, but remember that Apple and Google have a lot of money invested in selling you movies, and both would very much like to be your ONLY source of movies. They’ve been promising a service like this for nearly a decade now and nothing has come of it.
So now Nintendo, which has no stake in selling movies, has swooped in and basically cockpunched two of the biggest companies in the world. Really, that was how they pulled it off: Cable companies fear Apple and Google, but Nintendo? They’ve got no horse in this race.
Whether this will be what sells the Wii U remains to be seen. I have my doubts. But I also have little doubt that somewhere in Cupertino and Mountain View, there are a lot of executives have a very angry meeting.