Much more robust than the Wii
Set to launch late next year, the Wii U has several obstacles to overcome in a console generation that has left Nintendo far behind, including the ability to process HD graphics, include downloadable and add-on content, and have a more robust online interface.
The Wii does allow users to download games and, to a much lesser extent, "apps," but these apps have come late into the console life cycle and the Wii was clearly not built for such a feature.
Nintendo slightly improved this with the DSi and 3DS handhelds, which offer non-game downloads as a central part of their strategies, but according to the report, the Wii U's app interface will go "far beyond" these endeavors.
By comparison, the PS3 lets users easily watch movies from Vudu, download pay-per-view TV shows and video content, and stream live sporting events. The Xbox 360, meanwhile, has an entire live TV streaming platform as well as a robust online music store. The Wii has nothing like these offerings.
For Nintendo, the Wii U is a make or break system. The Wii's goal was an answer to the previous console generation - enhancements from the PS1 to the PS2, for example, were not revolutionary. So the Wii was meant to be something new, with the assumption that the jump from PS2 to PS3 would be mostly cosmetic yet again. But in fact the paradigm shift from PS2 to PS3 and Xbox to Xbox 360 has been revolutionary, leaving Nintendo in the dust.
The Wii U will need to bring something very exciting to the table, and with a robust digital download platform, at least it is taking a first step.