Nintendo preps a new sub-$189 DS

  • Tokyo (Japan) – Following on the heels of Sony’s recently announced update for the Playstation Portable, Nintendo said it will be refreshing its DS mobile gaming console. The pimped DS is scheduled to be introduced this Thursday in Japan and wills port a camera, a music player capabilities and enhanced wireless connectivity.

    According to an article published by the Nikkei Business Daily, Nintendo’s “mysterious” new product promised to surface at a news conference next Thursday will be a new version of the Nintendo DS. The paper said that the device will come with an integrated camera as well as music playback capability. The new DS will be initially sold in Japan for a price of “less than” ¥20,000 or $189. Other markets should follow by the end of the year.

    If the information in the article correct, then the new DS will be much more expensive (the current DS sells for $129), but the added value could convince buyers to upgrade their old DS units. The four-year-old mobile game console is still the best selling game console in the U.S. and year-over year sales are still climbing. According to NPD, Nintendo sold 518,300 DS devices in August of this year, up from 383,300 in August of 2007. The DS is also outselling the competing Sony PSP, which sold 253,000 units in August of this year, by a factor greater than 2:1 in the U.S.

    However, Nintendo is facing additional rivals in the mobile gaming space, especially from the smartphone space. Apple’s iPhone/iPod touch as well as Nokia’s N95 are emerging as new competitors in mobile gaming.  

    Compared to the PSP, the new DS appears to be a solid upgrade. The refreshed $180 PSP will launch on October 16 in Japan. The PSP-3000 will feature an advanced high contrast LCD, a built-in microphone and will initially come in three color options - black, white and silver. Sony will also offer a premium pack with additional goodies for an extra $40. However, it seems that Nintendo will be competing with the PSP with a comparable price point for the first time.  

    According to NPD, Nintendo sold a total 77.5 million DS consoles between the November 2004 launch and July 31, 2008. In comparison, Sony sold 40.69 million PSPs. Almost one third, or 23 million DS units were sold in Japan. That translates in one DS console for every five people in Japan.