Last Updated Sep 30, 2010 5:33 PM EDT
As discussed in previous Gadget Watch posts, this isn't the best time to launch a new gaming-dedicated portable:
- Sales of the Sony (SNE) PSP, the Nintendo DS's only competitor, have gone from bad to worse
- Nintendo announced the 3DS a week before launching its predecessor, the DSXL, which will likely affect sales of both consoles
What is certain is that Apple (APPL) and other handheld competitors are happy to have another blockbuster holiday season. Last Spring Nintendo admitted that Apple -- not Sony nor Microsoft (MSFT) -- was its biggest concern. It's unclear how much of the actual video game market share Steve Jobs' company has taken: BNET Wired In contributor Erik Sherman recently argued that the Jesus phone and its ilk didn't steal customers, but expanded them.
What is clear is that the iPod Touch has more than 50,000 games, with dozens equal to or better than Nintendo's own classic titles, and more than 200,000 apps overall. (On the visual front, Sharp (SRP) is already implementing 3D technology in mobile devices that could be comparable, if not more advanced than the upcoming Nintendo portable.) The iPod Touch also starts at $229, nearly $100 less than the Nintendo 3DS's estimated cost.
Another major challenge here is Nintendo competing with its own Wii. To be clear, the 3DS is superior to the four-year old home console in almost every way:
- 3D and 2D options vs. 2D only
- HD visuals vs. low-resolution graphics
- Portability vs. home
- Easy online access vs. counterintuitive online play
After an impressive preview, it's obvious Nintendo didn't cut corners with the 3DS's cutting-edge technology. The estimated $300 price actually seems reasonable for what's inside. The problem is that the money-conscious, post-iPod American market isn't going to pay that much for a (comparatively) one-trick portable machine. Nintendo will have to make the MSRP $250 or cheaper. Otherwise, it should expect weak sales compared to its uber-popular DS predecessors.