Wii is becoming more than a gaming console for the masses: Nintendo announced that starting Saturday the Wii Channels will feature a special section of news from Associated Press.
The success of the DS and Wii tops even the most optimistic expectations of Nintendo’s officials. Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime even confessed that "I’ll be honest with you– I’m blown away. We knew we would sell every piece of hardware put into the market, but we did not expect all the buzz and the advocacy...especially from non-gamers."
According also to a recent press release from the Japanese gaming giant, the portable DS console (Developers’ System or commonly known as Dual Screen) is now "the fastest-selling video game system in the world, […] in the hands of more than 10 million consumers in the Americas. Since launching in November 2004, nearly nine Nintendo DS or DS Lite portable game systems have sold – EVERY 60 SECONDS."
Building on the success of the DS, Nintendo announced that it would keep the Wii console sales target for the full year unchanged- 6 million units- but it has raised its Wii software sales forecast from 17 million games to 21 million games.
Nintendo will also provide news on a special section of the Wii Channels, following an exclusive agreement with Associated Press. The News Channel allows users to access news headlines and current events obtained from the Internet. News is available on a globe view, similar to the forecast channel. The content is automatically updated and viewable via WiiConnect24. The News Channel is available in North America and will be available in Europe on January 27, 2007, with content in a variety of languages provided by the Associated Press. Japanese news will be provided by a different agency.
Of course, in order to be able to have the news delivered to the screen, Wii owners need a broadband internet connection and the free Opera Web browser. There were no immediate plans to sell advertising space, said Perrin Kaplan, vice president for marketing at Nintendo's U.S. headquarters in Redmond, Wash.
News will be displayed through an interactive map, which users can navigate with the Wii's wireless controller, Kaplan said.
"The beauty of it is it zooms in and out of areas of the world," she said. "So if you really want to focus on regional news or national news versus international, you just blow up the map of the U.S."
Jane Seagrave, vice president of new media markets for the New York-based Associated Press revealed that the exclusive contract with Nintendo is spreading for at least two years and that in the future, besides the AP news and the photos, the agency will also provide multimedia content.
"It's a very innovative new application of what we're doing generally, which is to try to get our content to new audiences on new platforms," Seagrave said.
The AP will supply news for the Wii in English, French, Spanish, Dutch, German and Swiss-German, Seagrave said. The Japanese news company Goo will supply Nintendo's Japanese-language news, Kaplan said. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Nintendo managed to sell 3.2 million Wii consoles in November and December, together with 17.5 million pieces of software. The console launched first in the U.S. on Nov. 19 and sales totalled 1.25 million units by the end of the year. In Japan, where it debuted on Dec. 2, sales were 1.1 million units and in Australia and Europe, where it was on sale within a week of the Japan launch, sales reached 800,000 units before the year ended.
The Wii Channels collectively form the top level menu interface of the Wii game console from Nintendo. Separate channels are graphically displayed in a grid, and are navigated using the pointer capability of the Wii Remote. The grid is customizable, users can move channels, including virtual console games, between the menu's 48 slots. (Drag and drop of channels is accomplished by simultaneously pressing the B and A buttons).