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Sony, Microsoft developing GameBoy-style handhelds

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Sony and Microsoft are both working on competing handheld gaming machines, each designed to complement their respective consoles, PlayStation 2 and Xbox.

That, at least, is what stock market watcher Nikko Salomon Smith Barney has claimed in a new report examining the future for Nintendo. Looking ahead at the GameBoy Advance, the report notes that Sony and Microsoft are both expected to enter the market too.

Sony's unit is a PDA-cum-console derived from its Clié organiser, which runs the Palm OS. By a strange coincidence, Microsoft's unit as also a PDA-cum-console based upon its PocketPC platform, which runs Windows CE.

Sony's Clié line was always intended as a mobile entertainment platform, and the latest version, the PEG-N700C, is significantly more media-rich than its predecessor. Is this the device NSSB has in mind? Actually, we reckon so.

In the past, Sony has talked about the way the original PlayStation is only an LCD panel away from being a mobile device, but that the mobile gaming arena is better served by other machines, such as mobile phones - or, though the company didn't say so at the time, the Clié (see this story). Sony's entry into the handheld gaming space is likely a guess - albeit a very educated one - on NSSB's part.

Ditto Microsoft's own, parallel move. Xbox is based on Windows' own gaming code, and there's no reason why a subset of DirectX shouldn't be ported over to Windows CE - and, indeed, it already has. That doesn't mean Microsoft is working on a handheld, but we'd be very surprised indeed if it hasn't pondered it. ®

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