3DS Coming Early 2011

Kinda sorta excited about this one.

Nintendo’s 3DS, the first portable game device with a 3D screen, will go on sale in Japan on Feb. 26 next year, the company said Wednesday.

The 3DS will cost ¥25,000 (US$298), Satoru Iwata, Nintendo’s president, told a packed news conference in Chiba, near Tokyo. It will launch in Europe, Australia and the U.S. in March. Precise details will be announced by local Nintendo subsidiaries at a later date. (A video of the announcement has been posted at YouTube.)

The device has a screen that doesn’t require the user to wear 3D glasses. Instead, a filter over the display splits the on-screen image and sends slightly different images towards the user’s right and left eyes, providing the illusion of depth.

I’m not so excited about the price, however.  $300 for a Gameboy is a bit steep.  I was slightly surprised to hear that Nintendo has been getting hammered as of late in the marketplace…

Nintendo had sold 132 million of the portable devices from the launch through June this year, but recently sales have been slipping. Between April and June this year, quarterly sales of the device dropped by almost half.

Then I looked at my own gaming habits concerning the DS and realized why…the iPhone/iPad/Droid phenom is now competing directly with the DS in the handheld market.   Most of my handheld gaming in 2010 has been on a smartphone, and the DS has been largely gathering dust.

Will 3-D breathe some life back into the dedicated handheld gaming device market?   If you count the number of qualifiers I had to put on that market segment, you probably won’t be surprised about my conclusion: not likely.  

NOTE: this is without actually seeing the 3DS in action.  If the 3D is good enough to change the game, I’m probably wrong.  If it’s even slightly less than amazing, the Gameboy is probably dead as a long term platform.

NOTE2: I’m curious to see how they are going to try and market this thing.  By its very nature, 3D applications can’t be represented accurately in 2D media, so only a hands-on test will let people know how this thing works in the real world.