At the risk of being ridiculed as uncool, I'll admit that I don't watch the award-winning comedy series South Park. As the father of two young children, I don't have a lot of time for television in general. (Plus, if my wife ever caught me watching it, there'd be hell to pay.) I'm not a gamer, either -- I've never picked up a Sony
So it might appear odd that I think a recent episode on South Park is great news for Nintendo (OTC BB: NTDOY.PK), and possibly bad news for Sony and Microsoft. The entire half-hour saw one the program's main characters, Eric Cartman, obsessing over the new Nintendo Wii.
Pop-culture fixtures such as SouthPark can have a huge impact on consumer behavior, and I'm guessing that after seeing the episode, the number of children and teenagers demanding the Wii for Christmas has just skyrocketed.
South Park aside, a recent article The Economist laid out a compelling argument that Wii has another huge advantage: it's simple to operate. The Wii controller looks like a TV remote, and it's reportedly almost as easy to use. Moreover, because its games can be played in short amounts of time, and because many of its promised titles rely on realistic scenarios like sports or cooking as opposed to escapist fantasies, the Wii is likely to appeal to the vast, untapped market of non-gamers. In short, with Wii, Nintendo has a great opportunity to expand the video game market.
Granted, one SouthPark episode and the opinion of a non-gamer are no kind of basis on which to make an investment. Still, I believe Wii's ability to appear cool to younger SouthPark viewers, while also being perceived as fun and approachable to older non-South Park viewers, suggests that Nintendo could have a hit on its hands.
As Cartman would say: Sweeeeeeeet.
Put down the Cheesy Poofs and pick up further Foolishness:
Fool contributor Jack Uldrich did play Pong in his youth . He owns stock in Microsoft, but holds no position in any of the other companies mentioned in this article. The Fool's disclosure policy is totally sweet.