The Wi-Fi Difference

The first time I went to E3 was in 1999. That year’s Nintendo press conference was presented by Howard Lincoln and Peter Main, two executives who were there from Nintendo of America’s very beginnings.

These guys were brilliant the way I remember the press conference, everything obviously being new and magical. Lincoln had a sharp sense of humour, and you just wanted to trust the guy, while Main came accross as a true entertainer.

I sort of miss these days. I don’t think Nintendo can present itself as well without Lincoln and Main. I mean, Satoru Iwata is smart and somewhat charming, but he’s not the strongest speaker in the world — at least in English. George Harrisson does just fine, but he comes accross too business-like for an entertainment company executive.

This year the press conference was headed by a new face, brand new Vice President of Sales & Marketing Reggie Fils-Aime. I like the way he made clear Nintendo finally decided on its new direction and how the company means business this time, but instead of entertaining he was tough and actually a tad scary — or maybe I should say ‘determined’. Really, there were no laughts until Shigeru Miyamoto entered the stage with his sword and shield.

Fils-Aime had one great one-liner though, and it was about the Dual-Screen’s support of Wi-Fi technology. He said: “It’s not on-line. It’s no-line.”

It’s a great way of putting it, instantly making clear why wireless is the best thing about Nintendo DS — especially in combination with the touch-screen. It’s because wireless is a way better invention than broadband and also perfect for the broad consumer market. It’s perfect for videogames.

If you don’t have a wireless hotspot in your home you can just play with others within a hundred feet. You don’t have to play over the internet, it’s optional. But if you do own a hotspot, and they’re getting dirt cheap these days, you could obviously use it for your DS. All this could and should work automatically — Apple’s Airport shows how well Wi-Fi can be done.

What’s interesting is the DS could be the cheapest Wi-Fi appliance ever. It could even boost the sales of wireless hotspots. And even if they don’t, they’ll be everywhere within a couple of years anyway.

So, I guess you could say I’m pretty excited about Dual-Screen, though I feel the machine itself looks a tiny bit clunky. The design doesn’t really win me over, though I like the material it’s made of. I also also wonder whether DS will really be released this year. The hardware has yet to be finalized, it has no final name, price or release date, and there’s only a handful of real games — even ‘Metroid Prime: Hunters’, which looks pretty cool, is just a multiplayer demo.

Anyway, I have yet to play any of the DS demonstration software, but it’s the next thing on my list. Guess I should get back to work here, then.