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Nintendo hints at free DSi 3G connectivity

WhisperNet-style service coming to handheld?

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Recent comments by Nintendo’s CEO have sparked speculation that the gaming giant’s upcoming Nintendo DSi XL will offer free game downloads over an integrated 3G connection.

Satoru Iwata reportedly told the Financial Times that he’s “interested” in Amazon’s Kindle model. The online retailer provides free 3G access to the retailer’s own WhisperNet e-book download service. The cost of connectivity is covered through the device price and what Amazon charges for e-books.

“I’m interested because it’s a new business model in which the user doesn’t bear the communications cost,” Iwata said.

DSi owners can already buy games wirelessly, but only over Wi-Fi.

If Nintendo does launch a WhisperNet-style service then it’s possible that the DSi XL’s price – currently set at ¥20,000 (£134/$220/€149) in Japan – could rise as a result, Iwata admitted.

“If we did this [launched a DSi-style WhisperNet] it would increase the cost of the hardware, and customers would complain about Nintendo putting prices up”, Iwata added.

However, he stressed that the launch of such a service is just “one option for the future”, adding that he thinks it will “take a long time” before the industry in general moves to digital downloads. ®

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