If Wii U is going to truly become the central entertainment source of the living room, then it’ll be apps that will make the difference. Sony and Microsoft have already made significant strides in this way, with movie and TV streaming, as well as music players, already integral parts of those systems. It’s a game of catch up for Nintendo, making the 10 second appearance of video services such as Netflix and Amazon Video at E3 a surprise. The potential for unique features, as is the case with games, rests with the GamePad, and it’s the partnership with Amazon that has significant potential.
A potential Amazon Video app offers obvious opportunities for movie and TV downloads or streaming. The area where Amazon and Wii U can truly shine and make genuinely innovative strides, however, is with eBooks. The issue that’s faced Amazon is the limited capability of the standard Amazon Kindle e-reader, and the Apple iPad was the most significant major platform for these enhanced eBooks until the emergence of the Kindle Fire tablet, which is still not available in the UK. It’s an evolving industry, yet the most prominent distributor of digital books has actually lagged slightly behind.
While Wii U will take time to establish a significant user-base, eBooks could be a perfect fit for the system and its GamePad controller. The obvious application is for the touch screen to function in a similar manner to a tablet device, a simple way for the existing Kindle platform to be replicated on the console. To stop there would be a pity, however, as the immediate connection between the GamePad and television offers new possibilities that, although perhaps possible on existing tablet devices, could be used in an intuitive and fun way by Nintendo. The concept of group reading can go to a new level.
Some of these concepts could easily be replicated in a retail disc or download, but increasingly tight budgets put the potential success of those releases in doubt. Scaled back experiences with additional reading on offer, at competitive eBook-style prices, could attract audiences looking for a different experience. It’s through sharing creative ideas and expertise with companies such as Amazon, therefore, that the console can stand apart from the crowd. The eBook industry is popular and expanding, so if Wii U can embrace the format and form a strong partnership with the company behind the massively popular Kindle, it could be exciting for us and financially lucrative for Nintendo.