Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Weather weathervane

The Wii weather channel is in business. Not exactly a monumental bit of news, you can get weather anywhere. But then I started thinking. As gimicky as it can sometimes be, weather has always been some sort of technology milestone.

  • In mobile communications, Google lets you get weather via SMS
  • Tivo sets went online and one of the first services offered was weather
  • All sorts of items out there (cars, watches, fridges)
I don't think it matters how ubiquitous weather forecasts are and how you'll probably never use it in any of those products (I mean, how badly do you really need to know the 5-day?). What matters is that weather signals that the product is beyond the ordinary, connected to something simple and yet grand. Unlike stocks or news or gossip, weather is universal. Everyone needs to know it and everyone understands it. Weather is hands-down the best candidate for that extra feature.

With that said, adding weather doesn't always mean the product becomes a hit. Like marketing in Second Life, you do it to get people talking but you really shouldn't expect results.

For the Wii, they didn't really need to add the weather function, the product is innovative enough as it is. The weather function in the Wii suggests to me that Nintendo is trying to tell us something. They're saying, "If we can pull weather into the system, imagine the possibilities." I do and I'm impressed.

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