The newest member of the Nintendo DS product line was announced on October 2nd, the Nintendo DSi. It is thinner and lighter than the Nintendo DS Lite due to the fact that the DSi has removed the Game Boy Advance slot. The introduction of an SD card slot is a welcome addition, plus it features dual cameras, music playback, bigger screens, and a Wii-style channel interface are added. It will also be able to download games from the Nintendo DS Shop, stored on an SD Card or in internal memory. It will be available to Japanese gamers on November 1, 2008, but European and U.S. gamers will have to wait until “well into” 2009 before it is available. Nintendo DS sales are lagging in Japan but still strong elsewhere, hence the reason for the release delay in other markets.
While there is already some griping from hardcore enthusiasts (like the fact that it doesn’t have an internal hard drive, lack of dual touchscreens and only low resolution cameras), it looks to be a solid next step in the DS evolution. Adding every bell and whistle possible would have put its price out of reach for the average consumer.
Just as interesting is the stir the Nintendo DSi has created among the video game retailing industry - and not in a good way. The DSi’s new downloadable games service could threaten traditional game retailers. While content may be limited at first, this is an obvious cash cow for Nintendo, and it is anticipated that the service will ramp up very quickly. Let’s just hope the DSi service integrates with the Wii Virtual Console in some way.