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Nintendo Preps 3D Gaming Device

The portable 3DS will compete not only with gaming consoles, but with smartphones such as Apple's iPhone.
Nintendo plans to launch a 3D successor to its popular DS portable gaming device that won't require special glasses.

The Japanese company said in a statement released Tuesday that it will launch the device, temporarily called the 3DS, during its coming fiscal year, which ends March 31, 2011. Nintendo did not offer any more details, such as price or features, but it did say additional information would be released at the video game industry's E3 show June 15 in Los Angeles.

The DS, released in 2004, is the best-selling portable gaming device ever. As of the end of December 2009, Nintendo has sold 125 million units. By comparison, Sony has sold about 60 million units of the PlayStation Portable, which was released the same time as the DS.

Nintendo is apparently hoping the 3DS will help rejuvenate sales of the DS brand, which is slowing. In the current fiscal year ending March 31, Nintendo expects to sell 30 million units, down from 31.2 million units in the previous fiscal year.

Nintendo has refreshed the DS line before to boost sales. In April 2009, the DSi, which had a built-in camera, made its debut in the United States. About a year later, the company introduced a larger model called the DSi XL.

Nintendo's 3DS will enter a market in which competition is not just from other gaming devices, but from smartphones as well. In particular, Apple iPhone and iPod Touch have become popular devices for playing easy-to-use games favored by casual gamers. The low-cost games are sold through Apple's App Store.

Nintendo is the latest consumer electronics manufacturer to embrace 3D as the next big advancement in entertainment. TV makers, such as Sony, Samsung, Panasonic and others, are hoping the popularity of 3D movies from Hollywood will drive 3D television sales in the future as these movies become available in Blu-ray DVDs. In addition, networks are preparing to release 3D programming.