Nintendo Wii launches new browser

For the first time, a games console has launched a browser that allows users to access the internet from the comfort of their lounge room. This brings about a whole new era for the internet because it brings the internet to the lounge room. Currently, because their in no physical keypad, it is not as easy using the virtual keyboard to type in domain names, or enter keywords into search fields but it is possible to use the Wii to

  • save your favourite websites,
  • shop on ebay,
  • read online newspapers,
  • view videos,
  • listen to music
  • access webmail

Although the browser is only in beta, it does open up a world of possibilities to explore. Accessing the internet from the comfort of a sofa, is a very different experience to accessing the internet from a computer.

Wii Compatible websites

Using the Nintendo Wii's browser, it becomes clear that website developers will need to design websites for the Wii and that usability testing that will need to be done to ensure that websites work as well on the TV screen as on the ocmputer monitor.

Currently there are around 20 browsers, but Internet Explorer is by far the most popular with around 75-80% share of the market, followed by Firefox and Opera. The Nintendo Wii is based around Opera. Logically, most developers have focussed on developing websites to render and work properly on Internet Explorer. Good developers will program websites that are cross browser compatible and close to w3.org standards, and such websites should have no problems on the Wii.

We have come across a major games website, Gamespot.com that crashed a number of times on the Wii, and on internet forums, other users have posted issues with Gamespot and the Wii. Since the Wii browser is in beta, it may be that the full release will resolve this issue but otherwise Gamespot will have to make its webpages compliant to standards, so that internet users can access Gamespot pages using the Wii. If Gamespot doesn't change the way its content management system generates webpages, then it is going to lose a share of the market to its competitors, who do have Wii compatible websites.

Watching videos on the Wii

Downloading video, and being able to click and play clips on the Wii from the comfort of a sofa and with a larger screen will change the way people interact with the internet and websites. It is like PayTV on demand but instead of having to wait months for new releases, new content is uploaded all the time and you can even make your own videos, upload them to the web and watch them on your television. Sharing videos is as easy as sending a link to friends or family, posting on a forum or video sharing website.

The Wii however does not support wmv (Windows Movie) format, which is the popular video editing software that comes with Windows but it does work with Quicktime and some other movie formats.

Conclusion

Internet on TV is going to challenge a lot of website designers whose sites are not compliant to standards. Standards are important and although most people use Internet Explorer to access websites, not all people do and by not making compliant or cross browser compatible websites, website owners risk losing visitors and/or customers. Mobile phones, pdas, games consoles are using standards to develop internet web browsers that will allow users to connect to the internet for business and pleasure. The Nintendo Wii may be the first to bring the wider internet to the television but it will not be the last.