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Sony, Nintendo: release your next-gen handhelds now

Sooner they do, the faster sales will climb, forecasts analyst

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Attempts by Sony and Nintendo to freshen up their handheld consoles will see global sales of such gadgets grow by 4.9 per cent this year, according to analyst iSuppli.

The market watcher predicted that sales of handheld consoles, such as the PlayStation Portable (PSP), will increase by 4.9 per cent in 2009. As a result, total revenue will also jump by 8.2 per cent this year.

To put those figures into content, iSuppi added that handheld console shipments will top 63m units come 2013 - up from just over 49m units last year. Revenue will grow to $8.1bn (£5.3bn/€5.9bn) by 2013 – up from $5.9bn (£3.8/€4.3bn) in 2008.

Nintendo and Sony are pretty much the only players in the dedicated handheld console space. So it’s unsurprising iSuppli stressed that efforts by both firms to revise their platforms will “keep their portable game console shipments growing until they are able to roll out next-generation handheld platforms”.

But the analyst stressed that if either had already launched “true next-generation platforms” – a term it hasn’t defined – then 2009’s handheld console growth and beyond would have been much higher.

That’s because many consumers delay buying a new handheld until a next-generation model’s available. Something iSuppi’s forecast that neither Sony nor Nintendo will introduce until 2011, at the earliest.

It’s possible that Sony will revise the PSP before 2011, though. Because it’s been widely rumoured that Sony will announce a new PSP model – perhaps without UMD support - at the E3 gaming conference in Los Angeles next month. ®

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