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Wii – Lessons for Enterprise Software Companies

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I reconnected with an old friend recently. He and I were buddies for ages – from early elementary school through college. Growing up in suburbia, we were deep into video games. So naturally, I wanted to know his thoughts on one of the most important questions facing me this Christmas season: PS/3 or Wii?

I went into the exchange expecting affirmation of my first thought – a shiny new PS/3. It sure is easy to be seduced by the concept of a home media hub. One single device for next-generation movie-watching, gaming, streaming music, etc. And the graphics PS/3 sports are just awesome. (Hmm, maybe I will get one despite what I’m about to say.)

But somehow the Wii, with an entry point less than 1/2 of PS/3, seems to be gathering momentum. And this seems to go beyond the crucial fact that the Wii was available in larger quantities. It seems to center around the user interaction model for games.

I could give you a long, drawn out analysis to strengthen my case that Nintendo’s attack vector with Wii holds some wisdom for enterprise software companies. But I’ll skip it because it would be boring – and go straight for the “lessons” I see:

1) Dedicated Device – the Wii doesn’t pretend to be a hub for anything but gaming. And people seem to be okay with this. Sometimes broadening a solution can lead to growing the size of the market. But perhaps not in this case.

-> Enterprise software should solve a specific problem for a specific user. And the more specific, the better. Why do you think Oracle is acquiring enterprise application companies with vertical industry expertise?

2) Innovate in the “core” – the Wii seems to have re-invented the tactile interface for gaming, allowing for a gaming experience perceived as more “new” and “fresh”

-> Enterprise software companies seem to view application “research and development” as adding more and more features (often at a snail’s pace), endlessly complicating the user experience. This isn’t innovation – this is plaque whose build-up eventually kills the platform. Companies would be far better off investing in truly new user interaction models that change the nature of an employee’s connection with the system.

3) Don’t keep up with the Jones’ – The Wii opted out of an emerging high-powered graphics war with other gaming systems.

-> Enterprise software companies should resist following the herd. Playing catch-up on features for a limited use market segment while the price of entry is too high can be a poor way to optimize your prospective revenue.

Add your own “lessons” and comments.. And by all means, tell me how much you paid for your Wii or PS/3 on eBay! :)


Written by Dave Stephens

11/20/06 9:05 PM at 9:05 pm

Posted in Opinion

One Response

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  1. 4) The killer app. A killer app will drive sales for any piece of hardware. I believe the killer app for Vista and PCs next year will be DX10, when Vista comes out. Since it will only be available with Vista (XP users need not apply.), it will force a lot of us gamers/users (me included) to upgrade our PCs and video cards. If it wasn’t for DX10, I would be happy to stick with XP. Btw, I like Macs too.

    In my opinion, the Wii will out sell the PS3 even though it’s the lesser console. Similar to the Genesis and the SNES where Sega outsold the Nintendo even though the SNES was a better console (e.g. better graphics, sound chip, etc). It’s the games (fun) that sell the console.

    Conway Chang

    11/21/06 3:55 PM at 3:55 pm

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