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Nintendo Beats Google To Free Nationwide Wi-Fi

Strange as it may seem, Nintendo is deploying a free, nationwide Wi-Fi network, well before Google. For now, it's a game service. But there's no reason why in the future it couldn't be used for the Web, email, and data as well.
The Seattle Times reports that Nintendo has launched a wireless gaming service, the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, that lets users of the company's portable DS gaming device compete against each other over the Internet.

Nintendo is partnering with Wi-Fi provider Wayport to provide the service for free at McDonald's. Considering that the target audience for the DS is boys from eight to 14, who probably consume more McDonald's fries and burgers than most European countries, this is a very smart move.

Users of the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection can only use it to play games, not browse the Web or send email. But that's purely for marketing and economic reasons, not technical ones, because Wayport already provides full Wi-Fi access at many McDonald's.

If Nintendo wanted, it could provide full, free Wi-Fi access as simply as flipping a switch.

I don't expect that to happen soon. But eventually? Who knows? Nintendo is in a tough competitive position. Its primary market, 8-to-14-year-old boys, is shrinking. Other gaming systems, such as the XBox 360, are cleaning Nintendo's clock. The company has to do something if it wants to survive.

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