COMMENTARY | Every piece of technology has a usable life cycle. Even popular consumer electronics and game consoles that sell more than 85 million units can not last forever, and such is the life cycle of the Nintendo Wii. Nintendo officially put an end to speculation of a Wii 2 console, by confirming they plan on introducing a successor to the Wii in 2012. The first glimpse of the unit will take place at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, in June, which means Nintendo fans have a slim, albeit unlikely, chance of getting their hands on it during the holiday shopping season of 2011.
For Nintendo the arrival of new console comes at time when the company is facing declining sales and profits. Nintendo sold just 15 million Wii consoles last year and expects to only sell 13 million this year, which paves the way for another console. The Wii was a technical pioneer upon the launch of the unit, but competitors have found a way to improve on the process with the Microsoft Kinect and PlayStation Move. The Kinect alone has sold 10 million units in four months, which makes it very popular with consumers.
While Nintendo has been quiet on specific specifications and features for what consumers are calling the Wii 2, speculation has run that the unit will support high-definition graphics and feature an integrated touch-screen control system. Nintendo it seems prefers to let word of mouth and rumors dominate the landscape until E3, where it could likely dominate the press and focus of the show. Of course, the success of the new console will have a direct effect on the company as much as on gaming in general.
Nintendo has something of a history of breaking new ground in the video game world. The popular Nintendo DS was the first handheld console to support a dual screen format, and the Wii was the first console to embrace motion bases controls. Even now the Nintendo 3DS offers three-dimensional games without the aid of 3D glasses. Therefore, introducing a more expensive upgrade to the Wii with a touch screen controller and other options only underscores the company's commitment to breaking new ground.
Still the simple controls and affordability allowed the Wii to appeal to gamers from different ages and demographics. These were the knocks against the Wii by many hardcore gamers. The Wii 2 will have to really shake the core of E3 to get recession battered consumers to shell out for yet another console, but knowing Nintendo that probably will not be a problem.
Jason Gallagher is a former travel professional and long-time Pennsylvania resident. These experiences give him a first-hand look at developing situations in the state and everything included in the travel industry from technology to trends.