Nokia 'completely committed' to N-Gage

Handheld console... er... 'not going anywhere'

Nokia has denied online reports that the mobile phone giant is about to can its N-Gage handheld console.

According to a company spokesman cited by Computer and Video Games.com, Nokia remains "completely committed" to the platform.

"Nokia has no intention of shutting down the N-Gage," he said. "We are completely committed to the platform. It's not going anywhere."

Ah, isn't that the truth.

The handheld console was recently dropped from the UK software chart produced by Chart-Track on behalf of the European Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA). Low sales and less interest in the data prompted the decision, according to reports.

And when Nokia last week announced a plan to cut back on R&D costs, the axe fell most sharply on the company's multimedia division, which is responsible for the N-Gage.

Nokia is said to have given N-Gage 18 months to prove itself a viable platform. Launched in October 2003, N-Gage didn't rack up 1m shipments until September 2004, though Nokia had previously said it expected to ship rather more than that in the device's first year.

The launch, last May, of the N-Gage QD, which fixed many of the design limitations of the original console, certainly gave the platform a boost, but it's unclear whether it will have given it enough of a lift to justify the money Nokia has spent developing and promoting the console.

Indeed, said the spokesman: "There's been so much money and effort poured into the system we're not going to pull out now."

In October 2003, the N-Gage had few rivals. Now it's up against smaller players like Tapwave and Gizmondo, and, more importantly, the big boys, Nintendo and Sony, with the DS and PSP. ®

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