What I'm Doing

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Nintendo: WTF?

This past weekend, I finally decided to get a Nintendo DS. I've heard of a number of very cool-sounding games for it, and the dual-sceen (+touch-screen) format just sounds very cool. What I had forgotten about until after I bought it was that the DS has Wi-Fi capabilities. Sweet!

I have yet to try out the Wi-Fi connection (Phoenix Wright—a non-Wi-Fi game—has eaten up most of my play time). Even so, the thought has already occurred to me (and, apparently, to a lot of other people) that it would be awesome if the DS had a web browser.

In my fantasizing, the browser could be just a limited as the Opera-based browser on my cell-phone, and it would still be useful. If nothing else, navigating would be much more convenient with the DS's touch-screen as opposed to pushing buttons on my cell's keypad. Even with the additional limitation of requiring a Wi-Fi hotspot (as opposed to the cell phone's more available network), I would find this to be a wonderful convenience.

Certain that someone has figured out a way to do this, I took to the mighty Google, and, surprise, Nintendo and Opera are way ahead of me. Apparently, after producing the Opera browser that runs on the Wii, they released the "Nintendo DS Browser." My initial excitement was quickly shattered when I learned one thing: the browser costs $30.

$30? WTF?

First of all, the capabilities of this browser are, as expected, similar to my cell phone's, with the above-mentioned additional limitation of requiring a Wi-Fi connection. As I said above, that's not a huge deal to me, but, hey, my cell phone's browser cost me nothing. On my old RAZR V3, I downloaded the Opera browser for free. On my new RAZR V3xx, it came on the phone. Is $30 too much to pay for convenience? I'm leaning towards yes.

Secondly, compare the two Nintendo systems: Wii and DS. Browsing on the Wii is, best I can tell, a gimmick. I've tried it (Google Reader even has a special interface designed for the Wii browser), and it's a neat idea. However, after the novelty wears off, its easier to just browse on your PC. If someone, for some reason, has a Wii and a wireless network but doesn't have a PC, I can see this maybe being useful. But for those of us with a Wii and a PC, I can't see why anyone would seriously use the Wii browser.

On the other hand, as I said above, a browser on the DS could be a very useful addition to its functionality. Mobile browsing seems to be gaining popularity. The PSP even has a web browser (for free). So, not only would it be convenient, it would make the DS an even stronger competitor against the PSP (granted, the PSP is more of a "media device" whereas the DS is a "game system").

So, to summarize, the Wii browser is merely a gimmick, but it's free. The DS browser could be a significant enhancement to the system, but it costs $30.

And, yes, I understand that the Wii has a system to download new "channels," therefore it costs little if anything to distribute the Wii browser, whereas the DS does not seem to have this capability, so the browser has to be distributed via a DS game card. So, I can understand charging to recoup the manufacturing costs. But does it really cost $30 per unit?

Apparently, this browser was popular enough in Japan (and there was enough of a demand for it here) that Nintendo decided to bring it to the States. At that price, though, I doubt very many people are going to buy it.


Dr. Qohelet said...

FWIW The word on the street is that the browser suxs.

CoderForChrist said...

I'd guess that depends on one's expectations. From what I've seen, it's fairly comparable to the browser on my cell phone, which is what I would expect. Granted, I would expect that the DS browser might be faster than the phone (word is, it isn't).

Of course, if the only two enhancements over the cell phone browser are 1) touch screen and 2) somewhat larger screen space, it's just not worth $30...

Oh, well. I bought the DS for games, not web browsing, anyway. Granted, now that I know the possibility exists, it's gonna bug me, but, meh.