It's still early days for the Nintendo Wii and you can just about taste the desperation as people frantically try to locate consoles. Those few lucky fans who somehow managed to get their hands on one are pretty much guaranteed a one-way ticket to gamer nirvana-at least until their nunchucks batteries give out.
After the initial “I-can't-believe-I-got-a-Wii” daze wears off, users invariably start poking around to see what else this surprisingly tiny game console can do. The two USB ports located on the Wii's back panel have generated more than their fair share of speculation, both about what you can already do with them and exactly what Nintendo's future plans for them might be.
As to the first, they don't do a whole lot right now, unless you count charging an iPod or perhaps connecting to the Internet via a wired LAN adapter. Thus far, although various and sundry USB devices have been optimistically plugged into those mysterious ports, testers in the field have consistently reported, “No joy. I repeat, there is no joy to be had.” Apparently, Wii fans will have to wait for Nintendo to expand its USB support to include accessories like keyboards, flash drives, or external hard drives.
The idea of Voip on the Wii hasn't surfaced in the Wii forums yet, but it's a natural leap to make. Should Nintendo open access to those USB ports for non-proprietary applications and devices, Voip over Wii (VoW) could happen could happen any number of ways.
For instance, you could plug a standalone USB voip phone into the Wii and use the fabled console for connectivity. Of course, a USB headset might be a tad more convenient, because who wants to worry about hanging onto the phone when they're trying to win a cutthroat bowling match without launching that nunchucks right into Dad's widescreen TV?
As long as headsets are supported (theoretically, of course, in the technologically united future), why not go all out and also support external hard drives or, flash drives? That way, you could store your favorite softphone program on the storage device of your choice and just hook up to the Wii when you want to make a call. Also, let's not forget those voip-integrated keyboards. Wouldn't that be a great development? And while we're at it, we may as well muster up a little support for the most popular webcams on the market—after all, video voip calls are always a big hit.
In the end, of course, it's all up to the finance gods holed up in Nintendo's corporate headquarters. It will be interesting to see which way Nintendo goes with those coveted USB ports. Will they forge their own path and grant open access to everyone, or fall in line behind Apple; closing everything down except for proprietary solutions?