Nintendo Co. will begin selling an adaptor for its DS and Game Boy Advance handheld game players to allow them to play music and video, the company said, matching a popular feature on Sony's portable game machine.
Nintendo is in a heated battle to defend its dominant position in the lucrative handheld market against new competitor Sony Corp., which launched the PlayStation Portable (PSP), its first ever mobile game device, on Dec. 12 in Japan.
Nintendo's DS, launched in the United States on Nov. 21 and in Japan on Dec. 2, has been flying off the shelves but the PSP has generated an equal level of buzz among game fans, in large part because it can also play back music and movie files. The DS, which by itself is strictly a game device, will be able to play video in the MPEG-4 format and songs in the MP3 format by inserting a memory card into the new adaptor, which is plugged into a slot in the machine.
The adaptor will also work with the DS predecessor, the Game Boy Advance SP.
About 58 million Game Boy Advances have been sold worldwide. The DS is off to a strong start, with shipments expected to reach 2.8 million units by the end of the year.
"Someone could record a TV program on a memory card and then watch it the next day on their way to work on the train," said Nintendo spokesman Yasuhiro Minagawa, adding that it would allow for playback of CD-quality sound, depending on the transfer rate.
The company will start selling the adaptor in February 2005 in Japan for about 5,000 yen ($47.47, £25), Minagawa said. That is roughly the difference between the price of the DS by itself, at 15,000 yen, and the PSP, which sells for 19,800 yen before tax.
The device will be displayed at the Panasonic Center, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co.'s showroom in Tokyo for current and future products, on Thursday. Nintendo has a game corner on the first floor of the facility.
Minagawa said Nintendo had no immediate plans to sell the adaptor overseas. The company quietly put a notice about the device on its Website on Wednesday without notifying media or issuing an official news release.