But was CES the "2nd Screen CES" we predicted it would be in mid-December?
Here are some thoughts from my tour of the show room suites and booths "on the floor" from CES:
- Dish Networks (combined with their sister company Sling Media) had one of the most innovative consumer experiences on the market, all leveraged by an amazing, well-designed second screen app that allowed "the Hopper" set top box to record all of the shows each day in prime time and made them accessible for streaming or download in a second screen app (integrating companion screen experiences chalk full of social and stimulating features and allowing viewing screen experiences that rivaled most OTT experiences available today).
- Samsung showed some very sexy-looking second screen apps off in their booth, allowing you to push video to and from their TVs and to gain companion viewing experiences at the same time.
- Nintendo showed off their Wii U with a built in second screen experience, declaring themselves that "TV will never be the same."
- Microsoft continued to display its SmartGlass features with live sport and movies.
- Countless third party developers showed off their apps for to enable Discovery, with one of the B2B providers even demonstrating a UI allowing you to choose (from Facebook) who you plan to watch a show with and getting a suggestion on which shows you would both like.
- In fact, I visited every major CE manufacturer on the floor from Panasonic to Hi-Sense and Toshiba to Haier, and every one of them showed me some sort of second screen companion experience or viewing experience (multi-screen) that was already deployed or would be deployed.
- Additionally, every Pay TV operator I had time to visit plus Tivo had some experience to demonstrate that included a second screen Discovery element.
- Even Engadget and the Verge wrote something interesting up on second screen during the show.
Nintendo‚Äôs Wii U system, which is set for release next year, will employ high-density optical discs to deliver video game content. But the console will not feature DVD or Blu-ray playback capabilities, company president Satoru Iwata confirmed in a recent investor Q&A session.
As other consumer electronics makers (namely Apple) have claimed in the past, Nintendo says that the licensing costs to include DVD or Blu-ray playback in the new system would be prohibitive.
‚ÄúWe feel that enough people already have devices that are capable of playing DVDs and Blu-ray,‚ÄĚ Iwata explained, ‚Äúsuch that it didn‚Äôt warrant the cost involved to build that functionality into the Wii U console because of the patents related to those technologies.‚ÄĚ
More on the features that Wii U will include ‚ÄĒ such as social media support ‚ÄĒ at¬†Joystiq.
Highlights from videogame console makers‚Äô press events at the E3 Expo in Los Angeles:
Sony: In welcome news for 3D home entertainment developers, Sony Computer Entertainment said it planned to ‚Äúbreak the mold on 3D pricing this year‚ÄĚ with a $499 bundle that includes a 24-inch, PlayStation-branded 3D display, along with a pair of active-shutter glasses, an HDMI cable, and a copy of the upcoming ‚ÄúResistance 3‚ÄĚ videogame (via PC Magazine).
In related news, analysts are anticipating that Sony‚Äôs forthcoming ‚ÄúUncharted 3‚ÄĚ could be the videogame industry‚Äôs watershed 3D title (via The Hollywood Reporter). The game, developed by Sony-owned studio Naughty Dog, is set for a Nov. 1 release.
Sony Computer‚Äôs Jack Tretton also took time during the company‚Äôs press conference to reiterate his apology for the data compromises that the PlayStation Network suffered from hackers in May.
Nintendo: The company‚Äôs ‚ÄúWii U‚ÄĚ system, set for release in 2012, will employ a motion controller that itself houses a 6.2-inch touchscreen. Nintendo thus looks to add new second-screen functionality to game developers, while incorporating some tablet-to-TV tricks for sharing photos and online videos.
Wii U games will ship on high-density, 12cm optical discs, but the disc format will be proprietary and not based on Blu-ray, according to reports.
Microsoft: The Xbox 360 maker has offered few details of its promised live TV integration later this year. The company also plans to offer YouTube video playback via the system, along with voice-activated Bing searches for TV shows and other entertainment content (via Variety).
On the same day it announced a third-consecutive year of profit declines, Nintendo confirmed its intention to launch a ‚Äúsuccessor system‚ÄĚ to the Wii console in 2012, along with plans to show a ‚Äúplayable model‚ÄĚ of the new system at the videogame industry‚Äôs upcoming E3 convention.
Nintendo‚Äôs net income was $946 million for its fiscal year ending March 31, a 66% decline from the previous year. Looking forward, the company expects its recently introduced 3DS handheld system to contribute to a slight increase in overall net sales (via Joystiq).
Reviewing the U.S. launch of the 3DS handheld videogame system with USA Today, Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime says the company deliberately worked to avoid the retail shortages that impacted the introduction of the Wii console during the 2006 holiday season.
‚ÄúWe staged supply [of the 3DS] so it would not sell out,‚ÄĚ Fils-Aime said. ‚ÄúWe had product going direct to store and we also had product in [the distribution centers of] retailers, so they could easily replenish when they had stores running low on inventory.‚ÄĚ
Fils-Aime said that retailers sold 400,000 3DS systems to consumers during its first week of availability ‚ÄĒ an ‚Äúexceptional‚ÄĚ number, according to the Nintendo executive.
Analysts had expected the company to sell considerably more 3DS systems, however, leading some to speculate that Nintendo is now facing the opposite of what it confronted during the Wii launch: oversupply. While Cowen & Company had expected the handheld system would sell 750,000 units in the U.S., a more conservative prediction by Wedbush Morgan of 500,000 units wound up being off by 20 percent (via GamesIndustry.biz).
First-day sales of the 3DS in the U.S. were the highest of any hand-held videogame system launch in Nintendo‚Äôs history, the company stated on Tuesday (via USA Today).
Nintendo did not provide actual sales figures for the new system, which retailers began marketing on March 27. Game industry tracking firm NPD Group is expected to release a first-week sales estimate for the 3DS on April 14.
By comparison, Nintendo‚Äôs DS hand-held sold some 500,000 units in the U.S. during its first week of availability in late 2004 (via Gamespot).
Nintendo announced today that it will release its next-generation handheld gaming device, the 3DS, on March 25 in Europe and March 27 in the U.S. Games for the $249 device will feature simulated 3D graphics that can be seen by the naked eye; Nintendo expects publishers to release more than 30 titles between the March launch and the game industry‚Äôs E3 trade show in June. In Europe, Nintendo also has inked exclusive deals with content companies such as Eurosport to wirelessly stream 3D videos to devices. More at Engadget.
Meanwhile, new unconfirmed details are surfacing today regarding a rumored game-playing smartphone from Nintendo archrival Sony.
Sony plans to unveil the device in February, according to Bloomberg. The company will first announce an updated PlayStation Portable on Jan. 27, along with a new strategy for networked entertainment services. Bloomberg cites anonymous sources familiar with the plans.
Nearly half of Black Friday shoppers (42.1%) purchased books, CDs, DVDs, Blu-ray discs, or videogames during the post-Thanksgiving weekend, according to a National Retail Federation survey conducted by BIG Research. The percentage is up from 40.3% in 2009, and 39.0% in 2008.
The holiday weekend saw an increase in the total number of shoppers: 212.5 million, up 8.7% from 2009. Average spend per shopper (for all purchases) rose 6.4% from last year, to $343.31.
The increased spend in entertainment media coincided with more shoppers purchasing other discretionary items such as jewelry and toys.
‚ÄúWhile Black Friday weekend is not always an indicator of holiday season performance, retailers should be encouraged that a focus on value and discretionary gifts has shoppers in the spirit to spend,‚ÄĚ says NRF chief executive Matthew Shay.
Individual media and entertainment companies enjoyed early holiday season success. Nintendo estimates that retailers sold 900,000 combined units of the Nintendo DS family of portable gaming systems and 600,000 Wii consoles between Sunday, Nov. 21, and Saturday, Nov. 27 (via Business Wire). Meanwhile, Piper Jaffray analysts visiting brick-and-mortar Apple stores on Friday reported brisk iPad sales (via Business Insider), while Apple offered one-day discounts on other products online.
Nintendo announced its 3DS handheld game console this past March, and unveiled the device at the E3 Expo in June. But with the device not arriving in stores until next year, gamers in the know are holding off from purchasing any more current-generation DS systems.
The sales limbo of the DS system, coupled with tapering demand for Nintendo‚Äôs Wii console, negatively impacted the company‚Äôs fiscal second quarter profit, Bloomberg reports.
There still are merits to an electronics company announcing a next-generation product months before it plans to sell it. For example, such an early announcement reassures fans of the platform that the company is keeping pace with the makers of rival devices. But this benefit only works if one assumes traditional handheld videogame business dynamics (i.e., Nintendo vs. Sony). One wonders whether Nintendo ever could adopt Apple‚Äôs model of shrouding new generations of products in secrecy right up until the day of their retail availability ‚ÄĒ and preserve both its fanbase and quarterly earnings in the process.
Nintendo‚Äôs next-generation handheld gaming system will miss this year‚Äôs holiday selling season, launching in the U.S. in March 2011, the company announced in Japan yesterday (via the Wall Street Journal). The device will first launch in Japan in late February at a price of roughly $300 ‚ÄĒ a figure that Nintendo president Satoru Iwata says the company arrived at following the positive response to the 3DS at the game industry‚Äôs E3 convention earlier this year (via Industry Gamers).
Speculation holds that Nintendo will debut the 3DS in the U.S. for $250 ‚ÄĒ a price in range with Apple‚Äôs iPod Touch, which the computer maker has increasingly been positioning as a handheld game device in its own right.
Nintendo says it plans to drop the suggested retail prices of its DSi and DSi XL videogame systems, effective Sept. 12. The new suggested retail price of the DSi system will be $149 (down from $169), while the new suggested retail price for the Nintendo DSi XL system will be $169 (from $189). The company‚Äôs DS Lite model will remain at a suggested retail price of $129.
Through the end of July, total Nintendo DS family hardware sales are more than 42.3 million in the U.S. alone, according to the NPD Group.¬†But while Nintendo positions the price-cutting move as delivering consumer value, NPD also has noted that monthly sales of the game system have been flagging (via CNET). In June, the company sold 510,000 DS units, and in July it sold 398,000.
Nintendo said yesterday that its Wii console had topped 30 million units in the U.S. since its introduction in November, 2006 ‚ÄĒ reaching the unit sales mark faster than Sony‚Äôs PlayStation 2. (via Information Week). Worldwide, the Wii has sold 73 million units to date ‚ÄĒ roughly half the 140 million units claimed by the PS2, which remains the game industry‚Äôs best seller, according to USA Today.
With Nintendo reporting its first quarterly net loss in more than two years, videogame analysts are raising their expectations for the company‚Äôs next-generation 3DS handheld.
A Nintendo spokesman tells Bloomberg that the company will announce pricing and availability details for the 3DS device, which simulates 3D visuals without the need for special glasses, on Sept. 29.
A lack of new game titles and slackening demand for the current-generation DS handheld impacted revenue during Nintendo‚Äôs first quarter. DS sales declined by 33% in the U.S. last month, Bloomberg reports.
The company posted a net loss of $289 million for the three months ended June 2010, compared to a profit of $486 million during the same period in 2009.
New videogames such as Rockstar‚Äôs ‚ÄúRed Dead Redemption‚ÄĚ and Nintendo‚Äôs ‚ÄúSuper Mario Galaxy 2‚ÄĚ helped lift software sales in May to $466.3 million, a 4% rise from 2009, according to NPD. But the increase could not offset a 20% decline in console sales for the industry. Pacific Crest Securities‚Äô Evan Wilson, who had expected 15% software sales growth, says ‚Äúthere is no end in sight‚ÄĚ to the ‚Äúchoppy‚ÄĚ conditions of the games market, according to the LA Times.
Sony Computer Entertainment and Nintendo presented their dueling visions of 3D videogaming at E3 yesterday. Sony, which recently issued a 3D firmware update to its PlayStation 3 user base, touted a slate of stereoscopic games for the console ‚ÄĒ such as Gran Turismo 5, due out in November. But 3D gameplay requires both a television capable of rendering the images ‚ÄĒ models of which Sony just began marketing at retail ‚ÄĒ and a pair of 3D glasses. Nintendo, meanwhile, showed off its no-glasses-required 3DS portable gaming system, which delivered a simulated stereoscopic effect on game images. The company offered no details on price or launch date. The LA Times reports from the E3 convention.
Following Microsoft‚Äôs announcement that it has surpassed sales of 40 million Xbox 360 consoles worldwide, PC World breaks down the platform‚Äôs U.S. installed-base relative to the Nintendo Wii and Sony PlayStation 3. In the U.S., Xbox 360 still trails the Wii by some 10 million units ‚Äď but it continued to maintain a nine-million-unit lead over the PS3 audience. By PC World
Research firm The Diffusion Group (TDG) finds that one-third of U.S. broadband households now use a game console that is connected to the Internet. Sony‚Äôs PS3 tops the list with 78% of consoles being connected to the Internet, followed by Microsoft‚Äôs Xbox 360 at 73%, and Nintendo‚Äôs Wii at 54%.
The data, TDG says, supports the firm‚Äôs position that game consoles are best positioned to become the first mainstream over-the-top (OTT) video delivery platform. The Diffusion Group
Netflix announced March 25 that it had shipped instant-streaming discs for use with Nintendo‚Äôs Wii console to a group of subscribers for a test of the service that is set to debut this spring. ‚ÄúTheir feedback will ensure that we deliver a great experience to everyone when we launch,‚ÄĚ writes a company spokesperson on the rental site‚Äôs blog. By PC World
Nintendo may climb aboard the 3D bandwagon, announcing that it plans to release a new version of its DS handheld incorporating 3D effects sometime before March 2011. But the tentatively-named ‚Äú3DS‚ÄĚ device, Nintendo says in a statement, will not require users to wear ‚Äúany special glasses.‚ÄĚ
Some game industry observers took Nintendo‚Äôs announcement as an attempt to one-up Apple, whose iPhone and iPod Touch have become portable gaming devices in their own right. But the bigger issue for Nintendo, as Forbes points out, is the maturity of the DS platform: the company has sold more than 125 million units worldwide of the current-generation systems (including DSi and DSi XL models).
Meanwhile, longtime Nintendo rival Sony Computer Entertainment tells gamer site IGN that PlayStation Portable fans should not expect a 3D announcement anytime soon. Instead, the company remains focused on building 3D into its Blu-ray-based PS3 console.
Nintendo said it will launch the DSi XL, a bigger-screen version of its popular portable game device, in the U.S. next month as it seeks to continue growing amid more competition from devices like smart phones. The Japanese videogame maker said the DSi XL will sell for $189.99‚ÄĒor $20 more than the previous model‚ÄĒstarting March 28. By The Wall Street Journal
Shortages of Nintendo hardware following a record-breaking Christmas helped cause January 2010 videogame sales to drop, say analysts. The NPD Group reported the U.S. videogame industry sales for January on Thursday. Sales of $1.17 billion were down 13 percent versus January 2009, it said. By Wired
The current generation of videogame console hardware has outsold the last by more than nine million units to date, according to the NPD Group.
Overall console hardware revenues declined 13% during 2009, a year that saw significant price drops on Sony‚Äôs PlayStation 3, the Nintendo Wii, and Microsoft‚Äôs Xbox 360. The price cuts have spurred unit sales growth, however: overall hardware sales for the month of December increased 16% year-over-year.
The month was the first in which Sony ‚ÄĒ which reduced the price of the PS3 by $100 in September, to $299 ‚ÄĒ sold more than one million PS3 consoles. The Wii, whose price fell to $199 ahead of the holidays, ¬†also experienced its biggest-ever sales month in December, with 3.8 million consoles sold.¬†NPD
Netflix plans to offer movie and TV show streaming services to subscribers via Wii videogame consoles this spring, in a new deal that could bring digital video distribution to millions more of the nation‚Äôs living rooms.
The Wii streaming service will require use of a ‚Äústreaming disc,‚ÄĚ much like Netflix‚Äôs offering to subscribers who stream videos via Sony’s PlayStation 3 systems.
While the deal was long anticipated, given Netflix‚Äôs presence on PS3s as well as Microsoft Xbox 360 consoles, it nevertheless represents a big get for the video renter.
The agreement also could hold major development ramifications for the nascent streaming video market. ‚ÄúOur research shows that 86% of all U.S. Wii consoles are located in the living room,‚ÄĚ says Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime in a news release.
GameStop CEO Daniel DeMatteo says the videogame retailer‚Äôs holiday sales were impacted in part by unexpected shortages of products such as Nintendo‚Äôs New Super Mario Bros. Wii game and the PlayStation 3. Nintendo and Sony couldn‚Äôt keep up with demand for consoles, DeMatteo tells Business Week in an interview. ‚ÄúThey were out of stock right before Christmas,‚ÄĚ DeMatteo says of Sony‚Äôs PS3. By Business Week
The company says upward of 550,000 Wii systems and one million DS and DSi handhelds were purchased during Thanksgiving week. By IGN
Moms are poised to edge mature audiences, with Nintendo‚Äôs $89 exercise program on the verge of becoming the second-best-selling videogame of the decade. By IGN