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It took a while, but Nintendo (OTC BB: NTDOY.PK) Wii owners can now join rival gamers with Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) and Sony (NYSE: SNE ) consoles in streaming digital titles from Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX ) .
Nintendo and Netflix made the news official three months ago, but Netflix didn't announce until this morning the availability of the streaming disc for Wii consoles. Unlike the Xbox 360 version, PS3 and Wii owners need to insert a freely provided disc into their consoles to stream Netflix's digital catalog.
Nintendo is getting on board late. Xbox owners have been streaming since late 2008, and Sony's PS3 came onboard last year.
It's amazing how Netflix's digital reach has grown in a couple of years. Two years ago, Netflix streaming was exclusively a PC-bound experience. Then we got the Roku box, followed later that year by Xbox, TiVo (Nasdaq: TIVO ) , and select Blu-ray players.
Even before this morning's Wii breakthrough, Netflix had already launched a streaming application for Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL ) iPad earlier this month.
Streaming is cheap -- a lot cheaper than round-trip mailing costs for a physical DVD -- and Netflix hasn't had a problem securing digital licenses for older and indie titles. The convenience and the all-you-can-stream model will naturally lead to greater viewership, but the math continues to work for Netflix. Margins improved in its latest quarter, even as the number of users streaming at least 15 minutes of content online jumped from 28% of total subscribers to 48%.
Where does Netflix go from here? Now that it's available on all three major consoles, does it take the next step into offering disc-based video-game rentals? The company has resisted taking that step in the past, but a well-received GameFly IPO may change that thinking.
How about the next streaming appliances? We know smartphones are joining the party, but what about handheld gaming devices or the next generation of e-book readers?
All we know is that Netflix will continue to widen its net. It's backed by 12.3 million subscribers, and the numbers are growing. You can hardly argue against that logic.
Is there any Wi-Fi-capable streaming device that Netflix won't be available through in a year or two? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.