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Nintendo’s DSi Hit U.S. Market On Sunday

April 4, 2009

Nintendo began selling its next-generation DSi handheld gaming console in the United States on Sunday. 

The company is marketing the new product, which will sell for $170, as an all-purpose social and entertainment device.  In addition to its game-playing capability, the DSi includes two cameras, a microphone and a variety of tools that will allow users to create and share content.

The DSi is the third generation in the DS franchise.  It began selling in Europe on Friday and was launched last November in Japan, where it has sold 2 million units to date.

“This thing is to the digital camera what the iPod was to the MP3 player,” Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter told Reuters.

“You take the same form factor and you just add something to it and suddenly you’re going to have a lot of people carrying it.”

The DS Lite, Nintendo’s second-generation DS handheld, will continue to sell for $130.  Nintendo has shipped more than 100 million DS units since the franchise first launched in 2004.

Cammie Dunaway, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Nintendo America, told Reuters the DSi aims to personalize the traditional gaming experience.

“How do you get a Nintendo game device in every briefcase and backpack and pocketbook? We realized that what you need to make that happen is a device that is highly customizable… Natural tools for customization are things like photos,” she said.

Pachter said he predicts teens and tweens will be attracted to the DSi.

“They’re going to turn a one DS household into a two DS household. You will hand it down to your little brother when you get your DSi.”

The DS franchise is a direct competitor to Sony’s PSP handheld devices, and is increasingly competing with Apple Inc.’s iPhone and iPod touch devices, which are emerging as an important platform for video games.

To date, Sony has sold more than 50 million PSP units, while Apple has sold more than 30 million iPhone and iPod Touch devices.

Nintendo is also introducing its new online store, where DSi users can download new applications and games through the device’s WiFi connection.  The store will also offer users the ability to download an Opera-based DSi Internet browser.

Nintendo is widely recognized with helping extend the conventional demographic profile of the gaming industry.  Indeed, Nintendo’s Wii console has proved popular with a wide variety of consumers, including adults and females, who are more interested in casual and social games. The Wii has sold more than 50 million units since its launch in 2006.

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Image Credit: www.thetechherald.com

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