updated 02:55 pm EST, Wed February 24, 2010
Nintendo tries to fight iPod, iPad with US DSi LL
Nintendo today at its self-run Summit provided US launch details for the DSi LL. The handheld, badged the DSi XL in the US, will reach stores on March 28th and will undercut the Japanese version with a $190 price. It will have the same dual 4.2-inch screens and larger stylus and should initially come in burgundy red and bronze colors.
As was the case last fall, the game system is targeted at adults and comes with the DSi's previously optional web browser out of the box. It also comes with more mature apps such as the downloadable Brain Age games, Flipnote Studio and the simple Photo Clock app.
The American launch is notably characterized by a concession to the iPad through the introduction of e-books. A 100 Classic Books title will ship on June 15th and use the notebook-style design to mimic paper: readers tilt the DSi XL on its side to see two pages at once. The app will be cartridge-based, however, and no downloadable versions are in sight.
Nintendo's launch of the system is the second in as many years and reflects mounting pressure on the company to compete with Apple. Although it has publicly dismissed the iPad, the company has increasingly reacted to its American rival's handhelds and has admitted the iPhone and iPod may be threats to its business. Apple has been criticized for lacking physical buttons but has a much larger downloadable strategy game, which now involves not just tens of thousands of titles but prices that are often a third or less of what Nintendo's partners have to charge due to physical distribution.
The reasons behind entering e-books aren't directly explained, but Nintendo has encountered an unusual amount of success with older users and as such has to compete against other devices that would normally be an option for the age segment, including e-book readers. Apple's entrance into the category with the iPad now puts its into contention both with Nintendo's traditional gaming market as well as its attempts to branch out into non-traditional areas.