Commentary

Nintendo DS, WiFi, And Me

Forget the Wii. Nintendo's real golden goose, and likely the only thing that kept them going during the dark "GameCube" years, was its grip on the handheld market. (Yes, I'm very punny). I, among with 48+ million others, am a proud owner of a Nintendo DS. And for the marketers out there, that is a genuine 24-carat golden egg.

The key difference for the marketing world between the DS and its highly successful predecessor, the GameBoy Advance, is that the DS has built in WiFi networking, and the ability to download games and software for use through a WiFi network.

Basically, it allows a kiosk to be set up where a game can be downloaded and played. This is a great opportunity for brands based around a location. And the options for content are not at all limited to games.

At the Mariners' football stadium, Nintendo is launching a "Nintendo Fan Network," where DS users can download software while at a game that allows them to order food and drinks, watch live feeds of the game, get info about scores and player stats, and play trivia. The catch? It's $5 a game.

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Though it does make one wonder -- what could offset that $5 fee that would integrate into a sports environment? Hmm...maybe some brand sponsorship? Maybe the repurposing of some of those 30-second spots that aren't so hot on other mediums *cough* Internet *cough*? And I wonder if, when signing up for the service, some simple questions like age and gender could be answered and tied to the device. And furthermore, what if the numerous households with a local WiFi router who watch a baseball game on TV might be able to utilize the same software after entering the same demo info at sign-up? Wouldn't that be nice? An audience of millions targeted by age and gender for ads in a medium supporting broadcast content? Neat-o.

The rollout of the above scenario is suspect at best -- it's just idle wondering. But the real takeaway from the discussion is that there exists a solid mobile platform for gaming and content delivery with an existing user base of 48+ million (a number that's continuing to grow very quickly) and utilizes a ubiquitous and open networking technology. Oh, and it has two screens, one of which is a touch interface.

Now what was all this excitement about the endless possibilities of an iPhone market?

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