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Nintendo Announces 3-D Handheld - But Can It Steal Back Apple's Gaming Market Share?

nintendo 3DS

Nintendo has revealed that it will be showing the next iteration of the DS handheld games console at the upcoming E3 games show in June, and it'll be sporting an amazing new feature: Glasses-free 3-D display technology. It's all an attempt to beat Apple's increasing dominance in the handheld video gaming space.

The DS 3-D ("3DS" tentatively) will have backwards compatibility with the previous generation's games, but there will be new titles that make use of its 3-D powers. The amazing thing about the three-dimensional system is that you can enjoy the "effects without the need for any special glasses." Nintendo's not revealing the technology behind how this works, but it's clear that the company's been working on it for a while—as Kotaku notes there were rumors earlier in the year that the next-gen DS would have "highly detailed graphics" and motion sensing, obviously tapping into the Wii's vibe.

3-D is a tech that's about to hit the big time in a number of ways—3-D TVs are soon to be common, 3-D movies are coming out in increasing numbers, and 3-D monitors for desktop gaming are already on sale. Hence Nintendo's cleverly bringing this hot new tech into its market-leading portable console to maintain the attractiveness of the DS.

But it's clearly a desperate move to fend-off Apple. A recent study shows that the iPhone and iPod Touch successfully stole 20% of the handheld games market from Sony's PSP and Nintendo's DS, jumping up from 5% in the previous year. And this is just the hot-selling iPod and iPhone—Apple's got a paradigm-defining new handheld on the way in the form of the iPad.

Flurry Analytics have did research among the iPhone/iPad developer crowd, and have discovered a statistic that will have Nintendo's execs even more nervous about their future revenues: It seems 44% of apps being tested for the upcoming iPad are games. This makes sense, of course, since the iPad's larger screen can make for a more complex and visually-arresting game experience than the iPhone, while still coming with the multitouch and accelerometer controls that are often utilized for iPhone games—and its beefier CPU will help matters too.

ipad games

There's an obvious counter-argument against the iPad as a games machine, though, and that's its price. Although the entry-level price for the iPad is actually surprisingly cheap at $500, this is far more than a DS, or even a PSP will cost. And it puts the iPad above the price bracket that many parents would consider acceptable for a gift for the kids—a market the DS has clearly sewn up. But we are as yet clueless about how much the DS 3-D will cost, and it seems likely that it won't be cheap—the specialist hardware will be custom-made for Nintendo, and there will be increased processing requirements to support the more complex graphics. The timing of this 3-D console news is also interesting, since the DSi XL hasn't even gone on sale yet, and it already costs a sizable $190.

[Via Kotaku, AppleInsider]

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