Nintendo Goes from Wii to Zii?

It’s not much to go on, but Nintendo has trademarked the term “Zii” recently. I can think of 3 possibilities behind this move:
  • It’s speculative, and Nintendo simply wants to lock down obvious extensions of their now world renowned Wii trademark.
  • It will be an evolutionary successor to the Wii, a box that would probably include larger internal Flash memory and/or a hard drive, 720p display (probably enabled with a dedicated upscaler chip to improve on existing Wii titles) and a new bundled-in peripheral like the upcoming Wii Vitality Sensor.
  • It will be a revolutionary successor to the Wii, with the Z in Zii referring to Nintendo’s first serious foray into full 3D gaming. Could come with bundled 3D glasses, and a 3D upscaling chip and/or firmware update (Sony is already working on a similar update for its PlayStation 3). A Zii remote could also employ better gyroscopics for measuring 3D movement of player input.

The last possibility is the most intriguing, and Nintendo is the best poised to move into the 3D space among the current console generation. Microsoft has focused on the online space with its unmatched strength in downloadable game content, on-demand video and also increasingly in the social space with Primetime games like 1 vs 100 and the Avatar system flourishing. The Redmond giant is also placing its next input bet on Project Natal (and also taking away one of Nintendo’s strongest supporters for the Wii’s evolution into productivity or other new uses of the system).

Sony exclusively offers the Blu-ray experience, and their upcoming input device is a wand that looks remarkably similar to the Wii remote. While they’re also looking at 3D, their current strategy is to offer a software rather than hardware solution.

Nintendo differs from its competitors in that their hardware is always designed to make money from the day it launches; the Japanese giant isn’t interested in gaining market share by selling their devices as loss leaders. The recent holiday 2009 price cut for the Wii to drive sales has certainly done that, but the profit margin is now substantially smaller. Releasing a new console in 2010 or 2011 will bring additional excitement and interest to the Nintendo brand, provide a new product to sell to an eager audience, address the long standing complaint about the lack of high definition graphics. And if it includes a real push into 3D, all the better!


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