Wednesday, April 09, 2008

WiiBiiCii: Televisual Future?

As far as I'm concerned, the news that Flickr now does video is dwarfed by the announcement that the BBC iPlayer will appear on the Wii. Sure, that's a UK-centric perspective, but the forces at play here are gigantic, especially when placed next to Flickr's news.

To compare: Flickr has always done a fairly decent job of integrating photos with social networks (alongside others such as Deviant Art, I'd argue). Introducing videos - or rather, "long photos" as the Flickr blog puts it - is only big compared to what Flickr already does. (Personally, I love the idea of a 90-second limit. Others have likened this to the deliberate terseness of Twitter. And I think it makes sense. I'll be intrigued to see how my contacts list in Flickr changes as videos get rolled in.

But let's look at what the Beeb are doing. Their iPlayer is gathering momentum, and following the recent publicity around flying penguins, now seems a fantastic time to make the Wii-hookup announcement. People know what Wiis are (they've played one, or they've seen those adverts that do a great job of showing you how they work). People know what the BBC is. People don't necessarily know what Flickr is - it's one of those things that you have to experience, really, to understand what it might mean to you.

So the iPlayer is doing OK. But people are still really not into watching TV on their PCs (or their mobiles, but that's another thread). So we buy recorders, HDMI-capable devices, and ever-larger TV screens instead. The TV, take note, is still King.

Which is where the Wii comes in. It ties together the above two themes nicely - internet access on the one hand, and TV playback on the other. It bridges the 2 without knowing it, plus it throws in the most important bit here - user-friendliness. Not only is it aimed at all the family, no matter what the age, but the Wii also introduces possibly the only hardware interface that makes more sense than ever-more-complex remote-controls: true point-and-click. (And this is what sets it apart from the other consoles, which are still stuck with their "button" metaphors.)

The holy trinity. Connectivity, Content, Usability.

Whether others follow the Beeb's line is the crux point, the thing to watch. Either the BBC are going to be stuck out on their own again (although doing something, I imagine, that's still very successful - but not game-changing), or we can expect to see a swarm to the Wii by other similar content providers. Nintendo must be grinning like Mario at this point - even cheap imitators would need to do what Apple hope to do, and tie together hardware, social awareness and content deals.

It's a nice day here, but the geek in me is about to hook a borrowed Wii up to the net to work out just what else is going on here.

Addendum: The Register reports that a PS3 Hack is out. That's 2 out of 3.

1 comment:

phil jones said...

Hmmm ... very cute. Strangely I thought Microsoft were heavily involved in BBC's player. Why not (yet) X-Box?