El Segundo, Calif. - Sales of Nintendo's new 3D handheld game player, the 3DS, are expected to be strong this year, but levels are not expected to match sales of the previous-generation DS platform, according to a new
The market research firm said the $250 3DS's 3D graphics and "unique approach to network services" should deliver an installed base of 11.6 million units by the end of 2011.
"While this represents strong performance, growing competition from the iPod, iPhone and Android smartphones and tablets will prevent the 3DS from matching the sales of the previous-generation
handheld," IHS said.
By 2015, IHS forecasts a global installed base of 70 million 3DS devices. This compares with total sales of DS/DS Lite of 91 million at a comparable point in its sales cycle.
"Nintendo's accent on network services in the key U.S. market represents an attempt to convince users to carry their 3DS systems with them at all times and to engage with the platform everyday and in every place," said Piers Harding Rolls, lead games analyst at IHS. "This engagement strategy, alongside 3D graphics, camera and video, is key to Nintendo competing with upcoming devices from Sony and also from non-specialist smart phones, entertainment devices and tablets, which offer a legitimate alternative to handheld consoles."
Among the connectivity features of the 3DS is StreetPass, a local networking function that allows players to interact with one another through their devices. Players are sent new challenges and content by other users that are passing by. They also can exchange game data such as high scores and game characters. The local network connectivity is meant to encourage users to carry their 3DS with them on their travels and to instill some "magic" around the 3DS community.
Nintendo also is highlighting SpotPass, a 3DS Wi-Fi capability that enables connecting automatically to wireless local area networks and Wi-Fi hotspots.
Nintendo will offer a nationwide deal with AT&T for 3DS user access to more than 10,000 Wi-Fi hotspots, to obtain free content updates.
Another attraction to the device was a deal Nintendo struck with Netflix allowing 3DS U.S. users to access Netflix online accounts to stream movies and videos.
A Nintendo short-form-video service offering comedy and music videos also will be made available through the device.