Should Apple Do a Wii?

by Chris Howard Nov 29, 2006

Nintendo has a winner with the Wii. In the USA, it has already sold Wiis at a rate of one every second in its first week of availability. And once mums start telling other mums there is a games console that won’t turn Johnny into the Michelin Man with sweet potatoes for thumbs, it’ll go viral.

Mike Musgrove, in a recent report in the Washington Post, said:

I have never seen a bunch of non-gamers get into this stuff like this, and I have never heard anybody laugh so much while playing any video game. A few of them now say they plan to buy the system for themselves.

So how does Apple fit into all this? Can Apple produce a product that emulates the Wii’s success?

You might say Apple “did a Wii” already with the iPod. Or you might think Nintendo “did an iPod” with the Wii. But there’s more to it than that. The aspects of the Wii’s success are different to the iPod.

The Wii is revolutionary. To use a buzzword, it is a whole new paradigm. It’s about getting the players off their tushies and getting active, no matter what game they’re playing. (In fact, people are already reporting aches, pains and exhaustion from using muscles they’d long lost contact with.)

The second aspect of the Wii is it is appealing to new markets that games consoles have never had much luck cracking. Until the Wii, you could make a safe generalization about who would buy video games consoles. However, the Wii is for everyone.

I come back to the mums. My wife, who loathes computer games (and has just sold our boys’ Nintendo DSes on eBay), had no hesitation in ordering a Wii when she saw the demo videos. That is a significant new market to crack. Add to that Nintendo already opened up new markets with the DS, which the Wii will tap into and broaden (i.e. sell more in that market demographic).

The iPod though didn’t crack any new markets, rather it broadened the existing market. Possibly the reason was everyone already listened to music. So the iPod changed more people’s listening habits. The Walkman though started it 25 years ago. The iPod was just an existing product done better. There was nothing overly revolutionary about it. It was simply better looking and more user-friendly than the competition.

Apple in 2007 is rumored to be planning an iPhone, it is releasing an iTV, and the Mac Tablet rumor reared its weather beaten mug again this week. Can any “do a Wii” though? Can any of these introduce a revolutionary new feature which will open up new markets, selling to people who would utter cliches like “I never imagined I would ever buy a iPhone/iTV/Tablet”?

Does Apple even need to “do a Wii”? Do the iPhone, iTV or Mac Tablet need to be revolutionary and open up new markets?

Things are going pretty cruisey for Apple. Shares are yet again at an all time high, the Mac’s market-share is increasing and iPods have given Apple long term security.

However, Apple is getting to that difficult place. Should it go for the big hits? Or play it safe and steady?

Or maybe Leopard can “do a Wii”. Maybe it’s secret features will make people switch and say “I never thought I’d ever buy a Mac.”

(It may be possible the move by Apple that will take our breath away, will not be a product, but an acquisition.)

It’s unlikely though any of the new products Apple releases next will “do a Wii”, and be revolutionary and open up completely new markets. Apple, more often than not, release products that do things better in some ways than the competition. As long as it keeps doing that, there’s no real need for it to “do a Wii”.


  • NO! It’s like Microsoft coming into the PDM market. I think Apple can work WITH nintendo on games/hardware/devices/add-ons… Like an iTunes integration into the Wii would be AWSOME, buy your movies, music, and Wii games off iTunes… Pretty sweet. Plus the Wii actually looks like Ive might have hand in it… It matches, sorta.

    xwiredtva had this to say on Nov 29, 2006 Posts: 172
  • The Wii isn’t the right platform to expand into the itunes space, if you ask me.  To me, it would be perfect to have a DS-like handheld that allowed for downloadable games, as cartridges are a pain to deal with in terms of consumers, as niche games only come out with runs of a handful of units in order to prevent having unsold copies eating into the bottom line (like ET for the Atari).  Plus, if they were to make a handheld device with Apple handling the GUI, then they could turn it into a type of palm pilot/newton device on top of supporting video and music.

    Meanwhile, the Wii only has 512 megs of flash memory and an SD card slot.  Granted it’s got USB ports, so an external hard drive is possible, but still it’s not meant to be anything but a game console, hence the lack of DVD playback.  They already have their Virtual Console for the Wii, which will be interesting to see how that plays out considering the new exceptions for MAME and how ROMs are legal now… but that’s beside the point.

    For the iTV to be like a Wii, they would need to take a page out of Nintendo’s book if you ask me:  streaming television on demand with targeted ads mixed in.  With limiting it to the iTV, they could keep it as a closed ecosystem free from being tampered with, so that while people may be able to record the program, they would still have to sit through the ads.  Of course, not all tv shows would have to be available in this sort of format for them to get good publicity out of it (HBO shows obviously shouldn’t be available like this) and also allow people to check out shows that they may otherwise not watch.  It would essentially be the same sort of thing that the networks are doing now on their own websites, except it would be viewable on your television.

    Chicken2nite had this to say on Nov 29, 2006 Posts: 79
  • Anyone remember the powerpad introduced by Nintendo a decade ago or more..? Now that was exercise. The Wii is amazing, I have one myself and have pumped my heart quite a few times playing it but this is nothing of extraordinary coming for a great company like Nintendo—as Macglee said - evolutionary!

    macgomez had this to say on Nov 29, 2006 Posts: 3
  • I just can’t wait for Sega to come out with the light gun games.  Virtua Cop and House of the Dead, I am so there.

    Chicken2nite had this to say on Nov 29, 2006 Posts: 79
  • I’m sure Apple could do a fine job, however my concern is if they get into too many product areas and then don’t continue focusing enough on the products I already enjoy.

    pmplayers had this to say on Nov 29, 2006 Posts: 1
  • Both companies offer incremental changes (evolutionary) with occasional flourishes of innovation (the Wii controller, the click wheel).

    Maybe Apple should make a gaming console and then we could really compare.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Nov 30, 2006 Posts: 2220
  • MacGlee - tried Toysight a few weeks ago. Terribly difficult to learn, let alone master.

    And how many Macs has Toysight sold? How many new markets has it opened up?

    Also, Sony had something similar before Toysight.

    From all reports, the Wii remote is very easy to learn and master.

    Beeb, are you suggesting the click wheel was as a big a revolution as the Wii remote is?

    The click wheel is just a touchpad implementation of a control device that has been around for ages. Evolutionary, yes.

    I still reckon the Wii remote is revolutionary. What controller is it the next evolutionary step from?

    Chris Howard had this to say on Nov 30, 2006 Posts: 1209
  • Beeb, are you suggesting the click wheel was as a big a revolution as the Wii remote is?

    I’d say the Wii remote is definitely a bigger step forward in innovation, but both are basically implementations of existing technology used in a new way to control a device.

    I understand what you’re saying about the click wheel replacing/mimicking an existing controller, but it was a controller from Apple, not one that had already been around.

    That said, I will concede your basic point that the Wii remote is more revolutionary than anything Apple has done with the iPod, by the standards you’ve set here; I just hesitate to use those terms.  I don’t know why, I just do.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Nov 30, 2006 Posts: 2220
  • If anyone is interested, I wrote a review of ToySight here at AppleMatters. You can view the review here:

    BigMac had this to say on Nov 30, 2006 Posts: 5
  • CES is but a month away and the iTV is lurking in Apple’s Cupertino labs. I just wonder if they will position the device more than a VOD (video on-demand) player tied with iTunes and tethered to an unannounced wireless video iPods.

    Will it be more than we already know - games, P2P capability with other proud and anxious iTV owners, what else? Steve hasn’t shown all of iTVs technical features. He only showed the whip cream not the cake. And the cake will blow us away (from what he revealed).

    As for the Wii, yes the controller is R.E.V.O.L.U.T.I.O.N.A.R.Y. and I am willing to repeat that. I will buy one after the holidays just for having that remote controller with accelerometers. Nintendo have the guts and vision (much like Apple) to try something new and unproven when the naysayers are sticking to proven (meaning stale, old, rotten, you get the point) ideas and methods of nickle-n-diming the populace.

    I may buy the PS3 too (never mind the hot cinder block called the XBOX 360) for it will be my HD player and an occassional game machine. After all, it will the most cost-effective Blu-Ray player around.

    Robomac had this to say on Nov 30, 2006 Posts: 846
  • When Apple iTV comes out, they should allow us to download games off iTunes (like we can for the iPods) & play them on the iTV box.

    Companies like EA could allow their games to be download & played on iTV & this could put the iTV in competition with Xbox 360.

    Probably never happen or work properly, but just a suggestion.

    jaygee had this to say on Nov 30, 2006 Posts: 2
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