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Portable console makers mull 3G connectivity

by Sarah Griffiths on 9 July 2010, 12:40


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Beating smartphones at their own game

Portable console manufacturers have reportedly been in talks with Japanese wireless carrier, NTT DoCoMo, to add 3G connectivity to their devices in a bid to compete with smartphone gamers.

In an interview with the WSJ, the president of NTT DoCoMo, Ryuji Yamanda said: "Videogame makers know that in order for portable game machines to take the next step forward, they need wireless communication." Although he claimed to be in talks with various big players, he refused to name-drop. 

Currently, Nintendo's DSi and Sony's PSP do not have the ability to use 3G and take advantage of higher bandwidth plus extra multimedia features, although both do have Wi-Fi connectivity. 

Intriguingly, Nintendo recently unveiled its new 3DS, a 3D portable console destined to hit the market in March 2011, which did not specifically include 3G in its spec. 

However, the rise in popularity of social gaming and smartphone game apps will put pressure on the portable games console manufactures to evolve their propositions in order to offer socially-interactive gaming and GPS location based gaming, avoiding obsolescence.

Yusuke Tsunoda, an analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Center, reportedly said the 3G talks indicate console makers are feeling the pinch from the smartphone gamers who might have shelled out for a separate device before downloadable mobile games came along. 

"The distinction between gaming devices and mobile communication devices like smartphones, are blurring.  And it may eventually disappear," he added.

Both Sony and Nintendo have reportedly declined to comment on whether they are discussing the possibility of adding 3G to their respective consoles with NTT DoCoMo. 

Outside the portable console market, tablets such as Apple's iPad and e-readers like the Kindle now enable users to browse web content using 3G.

The lure of 3G is not only to boost a console's features and user experience, but an extra way to make some money, as wireless carriers can generate data revenue. It would also let the manufacturers push software and patches to devices without relying on users to seek out the updates. 

While Nintendo has neither explicitly committed to nor ruled out 3G connection in its eagerly anticipated 3GS,its President, Satoru Iwata reportedly expressed an interest in how Amazon have included 3G in its Kindle, including the connection cost in the price of its e-reader. 

Meanwhile, rumours are rife that Sony is working on a portable multi-function device that works as a netbook, e-book reader and games console.  There are reportedly no plans to beef up its poorly-received PSP Go console.


HEXUS Forums :: 1 Comment

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You will have trouble convincing people to pay for another data plan.

People don't mind paying it on smartphones as it is bundled in with minutes and texts. And phones are eclipsing current gen handheld consoles in terms of their features which allow you to use the data bundled in for web browsing, email, IM, VOIP and VOD.

I wouldn't mind paying a “Playstation Portable Plus” which came with the current Playstation Plus benefits plus a data plan. Sony should be able to pull this off, but no one, not even Apple has managed to pull off an ergonomic design which combines the phone with gaming.