Wishlist: Better Apps for Nintendo DSi (Portable Gaming Devices)

If Nintendo pays attention and allows for better app development in their DSi platform, they could win a lot of consumers away from their traditional, and new, competitors in the handheld gaming space.

A few weeks back, I stood in a ridiculously-crowded lobby of a restaurant. As I waited fatefully for my number to be called, I noticed something interesting.  This was a Friday night—hardly a child or teen around to be seen, but there were a LOT of video games being played around me on imagevarious devices…

…but none of them were gaming devices—they were all phones.

One couple endured their wait for dinner laughing and having a good time taking turns playing Angry Birds on their iPad while others looked on and even joined in.

I counted at least three other people playing that same game on Android and iPhone devices in the immediate vicinity.

Reality is, the world has changed for portable gaming thanks to the iPhone and now Android. Sony will launch their Playstation Phone, formally dubbed the Xperia Play (and soon a tablet?)soon which will further accelerate the convergence.

When I bought DSi devices for my household, I was excited about their built in wifi, front and rear facing cameras, cool tools and ways to edit images and sounds, and some descriptions on the box about messaging. But, I expected them to do a better job of communication than they do. Photo sharing is limited at best to between devices concurrently connected.

These are COOL little handheld computers, but unfortunately so limited in what they can do when you stack them up against an iTouch or any other smartphone.

Messaging is possible, but in a public peer-to-peer ad-hoc network created by the devices which is cool, but limited as every message is broadcast to anyone listening like a chat room or CB Radio conversation.


In my mind, I imagined the device to be a wireless communication tool where my family could connect and share photos, messages and more among each other in a secure, connection-agnostic asynchronous way… like email or SMS/MMS.

This desire has been renewed by a recent trip we had without Internet access where it would have been ideal if messages could be sent device-to-device privately and directly.

The Internet would simply broaden the reach of the device, allowing messages to be sent across the globe, not just within wifi range.

How to accomplish this? Again, I think of Apple and the iPhone. They allow apps to be written (and sold through their marketplace) which extend the existing capability of the device.  Android and Blackberry and Palm have joined in… in fact, a future without "apps" in an electronic device may not be much of a future at all

I have no idea how hard it is to get Apps into the Nintendo store (their "marketplace"). They have one, but there’s nothing there but classic games and digital trinkets. They charge for download (and I am sure take a cut for themselves) but the range of applications is limited at best.


  • It would be amazing if app developers could write Apps for these super cool mini devices that could enable communication in a device agnostic way… for example gTalk for chat, gmail and Google Voice would be killer, even if just for the sms/email capabilities.
  • A way to communicate p2p privately between devices would be amazing.
  • All of these things could come through the app store.

If only…


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