updated 02:50 pm EDT, Fri October 30, 2009
Nintendo DS sequel may follow Kindle model
Nintendo's next-generation portable game machine could have free 3G access built in, company president Satoru Iwata commented on Friday. While not a definite plan, the executive tells those he is at least considering an echo of the Amazon Kindle's business model, which charges extra up front in return for lifetime 3G access. The model would be dictated by Nintendo's younger user base and the primary gaming focus of its devices.
"Only people who can pay thousands of yen a month can be iPhone customers," Iwata says.
He acknowledges that the cost might be expensive initially and that it's just "one option" among others.
The addition would be a direct retort to Apple's rapid incursion into handheld gaming. As of today, the DS Lite, DSi and DSi LL are limited to 802.11b Wi-Fi and have just a small footprint online, with a limited number of games supporting an online component and the DSiWare mobile app and game store carrying only a small number of titles. An always-available Internet connection would simplify app downloads and Internet-based play and give the DS an edge over the iPod's limitation to short-range wireless as well as the iPhone's expensive long-term cost.
Iwata himself is cautious about moving purely to downloads as he believes it will take "quite a long time" before they become commonplace.