In some ways, the Nintendo Wii doesn't really belong to the current generation of game consoles. Despite being released around the same time as the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, the Wii's underlying hardware is considerably less powerful. An update is coming soon, though. Nintendo has revealed that the Wii's successor will arrive some time next year.
The announcement is short on details, but something different appears to be in the cards. Nintendo president Satoru Iwata had this to say to Reuters:
"We would like to propose a new approach to home video game consoles" with the Wii successor, Iwata said, without elaborating. "It's difficult to make 3-D images a key feature, because 3-D televisions haven't obtained wide acceptance yet."
Nintendo took the 3D route with its latest handheld gaming system, which uses glasses-free tech but incorporates its own display. Rumors have suggested that Nintendo's next home console will take a page from the handheld family by incorporating a touchscreen into the controller. That would certainly qualify as a new approach, and we probably won't have to wait too long for confirmation. The next-gen Wii is scheduled to make an appearance at this year's E3 Expo in June.
A 2012 release would give the Wii's successor a head start on new consoles from Microsoft and Sony, which aren't expected to arrive until 2014. Let's hope Nintendo does more than combine antiquated graphics hardware with a novel control scheme this time around.