Buy the Nintendo DSi – Is it Worth It?

Whether your kids (or you — I have my own) already own a Nintendo DS and are looking to update or upgrade, or you’ve never purchased a handheld console, the Nintendo DSi is a great product at a reasonable price.

The DSi features Nintendo’s stylus driven touchpad technology, though not all games make use of it, just like the original DS. However, this model of the system comes in a sleeker, slimmer package, with larger screen real estate.

Some improvements in the control buttons (namely, an on-off button instead of slider, and up-down volume control buttons, again, instead of a slider) are definitely welcome. While we never had issues with the power switch, the volume slider didn’t allow for fine enough adjustment, and often resulted in choosing one of three volume levels: Really Loud, Too Loud for the Car, and Mute.

The most significant improvement to the hardware is the inclusion of a dual-direction digital camera. The DSi user can take a picture of themself, without having to rotate the camera, or someone in front of them.

On the software side, the DSi includes a photo manipulation program, which allows the DSi user to add frames or filters to their photos, and the SD card slot makes it easy to transfer pictures to the family computer (or the local photo shop) for printing.

Similar to the original DS and DSLite, the new Nintendo DSi has a microphone to “hear” sounds, but new to the game is the option of recording sound via the voice recorder, and then manipulating it with various filters. My son’s favorite filter is combining the monotone filter with the harmony filter.

And, as long as you have iTunes, or another similar program that can convert your song library to.AAC format, the DSi can function as a simple music player — great for long car rides.

Thankfully, the DSi is also backward compatible with all of the original DS titles, so the total library of over 850 games is available to the new DSi user.

DSiWare is a new addition to the DS gaming consoles. Because the DSi is fitted with WiFi, as long as you’ve got a wireless internet connection available, you can go online and access DSiWare, the only “shopping channel” for Nintendo Dsi downloads like games and applications. There are some free apps, like FlipNote Studio, but most are purchased via Nintendo Points (same as Wii Points). 100 Nintendo points = $1, and there are plenty of fun apps and demos for under 500 points.

Still Holding Out? The Wii Console is Right For You

It’s very apparent that the Wii console sells so well because of it’s appeal to many, not just the so called gamers. With its Gamecube game system, Nintendo realized that a lot more people will buy if you target young kids, families, adults who want to play but are not addicted to video games. A basic, fun system will undoubtedly sell many more than the high end boxes that only appeal to hard core video game fans.

This has paid off big time for Nintendo. A couple years running now, they have been the top selling console and have multiples games in the top five sales as well. They hit their first home run with the Wii controller that is motion sensitive and allows players to just wave it in the air to move the characters on the screen. All ages from a four year old to a senior can certainly do that. This has made an all age attraction for Nintendo. The Wii Fit balance board has also been a big seller along with the Wii console and Wii Fit bundle. They continue to be off the charts with sales. Nintendo has been able to reach an audience that wants a fitness routine without playing a video game. This certainly separates them from the rest. Essentially, once players have a taste of the Wii Fit, they’ll also want to try some games. Why not? It’s fun, they’ll have all the equipment, and it’s something they can play with family and friends when they’re not working out.

The fun features definitely make the Wii console an entertainment value. Nintendo has the Wii Shop Channel, which allows owners to download games online, and play right away. At $10 and $20 these are incredibly affordable and can be purchased right online with a credit card, or by purchasing a Wii Points card at a local store. Lately the Wii also got access to the Netflix streaming video service, for Netflix subscribers. Anyone with a Netflix service subscription can download movies, documentaries and television shows for immediate streaming through their Wii system. This requires a wireless home network, which many households have today. By offering this feature the Wii console is now a complete entertainment center.

The highly anticipated new games in the Zelda series that are soon to be coming out, will only add to the appeal of the Wii. It’s rumored to be a high definition component. With all that Nintendo has to offer it continues to amaze and both audiences and retailers alike.

How to Fuel Your Online Growth

Retailers are hurting! People are not spending as much regardless quite appealing discounts, but online business is still doing well according to Forrester report for 2009. What fuels it? Can you believe it’s good marketing: in the form of rich media ads or experiences, well-targeted email marketing, paid search and enabling mobile shopping opportunities? At the same time, it’s not quite as odd as it seems – without marketing and advertising your online business might lose its fuel and vanish. Bringing the traffic to your site is very vital and transferring it into purchasing even more so, but it does require more effort than before due to the normal environmental intricacies of online shopping and additional challenges of reduced spending. So what are the secrets of steady online business?

Through browsing the latest ecommerce guides, we can distinguish the following factors contributing to present online success:

1) Rich media application through online shopping experience – making your product appealing to your audience. While selling online, it’s critical to recreate a close to “real life” experience and rich media does just that. It allows maximum engagement opportunities (high definition demo, reading reviews while browsing, moving a picture/product, deep zooming it in/out, changing color, seeing the product in a number of suggested backgrounds). Once you manage to deliver this optimal selection/consideration experience, enhanced with visualization tools (pictures, interactive video) in the privacy of one’s own home (where the “mall buyer’s remorse” is weakened thanks to the latter), you’ve got your conversion, sealed by the sales transaction. Check your own experience next time you browse your favorite brand or notice an ad about a product that you have already considered!

2) Targeted email that motivates buyer behavior. You might say – “Oh, that’s not new!”, but I would encourage you to look closely at the best practices and keep refining your email strategy. The most successful email marketing program delivers products consumers want, when they want them. Thus, at the point of customer acquisition you should offer a number of product specific notifications and then cater only the information of interest in separate messages versus all-in-one for everybody on your list. Plus, it helps to study the best responses for each acquired customer and test the optimal frequency, because ultimately you are building relationships. Finally, spend some time offering the sign-up opportunities for your email programs everywhere on your site or ads. Or to dress it up even more – provide incentives for your potential customers to sign up and keep the pipeline growing!

3) Mobile shopping becomes a competitive channel to boost sales. Putting your stores (literally) into your customers’ purses and pockets can bring you a significant boost in sales. And the growing adoption of smart phones confirms the importance of this so called “fourth channel” – 95% of all mobile traffic to m-commerce sites comes from smart phones! A shopper in a brick-and-mortar store might lure to your site to verify the prices on the spot. A busy multitasker will greatly appreciate your way of letting her order an item on the go via a text. Plus, think about the potential of texting – mobile selling without internet, when a delighted customer shares the love with friends and family. Finally, we also have mobile applications/application stores to add to the equilibrium, which offer a richer shopping experience and an opportunity to purchase a product through the phone application itself. Not a bad alternative!

4) Search, search and again search – one cannot win online only with SEO when it comes to converting the eligible traffic to sales. Search marketing has become one of the most popular tactics due to its direct measurability to sales and natural integration in the consumer shopping behavior. When we want something, we go online and start the search. Then, it is up to the advertisers to compete for our attention and gradually our dollars. Oh, and sometimes, you have “to flirt” with us shoppers when we are comparing prices. In addition, even if you’re sold on investing into search – do not forget other channels. I see that some marketers falsely abandon other channels and start chasing the “hottest” paid search. But if you think again from the buyer perspective – to make me search for you and your product – I need to become aware of it and be exposed to messages about it. Thus, it is only common sense to view your effective paid search campaigns supplemented and augmented by other marketing programs, be those display ads, product placements, or social media engagement campaigns.

So, what are you waiting for?