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After Sony PSP phone, a 3G Nintendo DS?

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Mobile gaming lies at the heart of all the best smartphone rumors this quarter, so it's no surprise that talk of a Nintendo handset have resurfaced.

The Japanese firm is reported to be preparing a complete revamp of its DS handheld console for launch at June's E3 show, which would come with embedded 3G and ship in time for the holiday season.

This could create the interesting situation in which the rumored Sony PlayStation Portable smartphone and the Microsoft 'Pink' device with Xbox integration, could hit the market around the same time, all seeking to ensure the iPhone does not have the games market all to itself.

The talk of Nintendo's mobile plans emerged from DS programmers at the recent Game Developers Conference. The new DS looks to be another design win for Nvidia's Tegra processor, which has also won success at Microsoft Zune HD and is taking on Intel Atom, Qualcomm Snapdragon and TI OMAP, in the emerging media devices space more than in conventional phones.

According to the Rpad blog, the device will also have two screens, like the current DS, but these may be able to function as a single virtual large screen.

Most interestingly, Nintendo appears not just to be adding 3G, but planning to offer unlimited, embedded wireless connectivity, like the Amazon Kindle, rather than any form of carrier deal.

This is widely expected to be the primary model for media devices in the future, but remains quite unusual, with most new formats still requiring some kind of carrier sign-up (as with the AT&T iPad). 

CEO Satoru Iwata said last fall that Nintendo was considering incorporating unlimited 3G data access into the next DS.

"I'm interested because it's a new model in which the user doesn't bear the communications cost," he said in an analyst briefing then. "Only people who pay [large amounts] a month can be iPhone customers."

Of course, given that Microsoft is adding motion control to Windows Phone 7, the next round of speculation is sure to focus on a Wii phone.

Copyright © 2010, Wireless Watch

Wireless Watch is published by Rethink Research, a London-based IT publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter delivers in-depth analysis and market research of mobile and wireless for business. Subscription details are here.

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