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Nintendo DS Refresh Sets Its Sights On Apple

The next version of the handheld gaming device would be able to take pictures and play music similar to the iPhone and iPod Touch.

Nintendo is ready to launch by the end of the year a new version of the DS portable video-game player that would take on a challenge by Apple's iPod and iPhone.

The next version of the DS handheld device would be able to take pictures and play music, the Reuters news agency said, quoting The Nikkei Business Daily in Tokyo. The system, which would also be equipped with wireless communication functions, is expected to cost $189 in Japan. The current model of Nintendo's DS costs $158 there. U.S. models retail for $129.

Nintendo's DS outsells Sony's PlayStation Portable worldwide. Nintendo also makes the popular Wii game console, which outsells in terms of unit shipments, Sony's PlayStation 3 and Microsoft's Xbox 360.

Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch are emerging as gaming platforms as the number of games available for the systems increases on Apple's App Store. The iPhone and iPod, however, are substantially more expensive than the DS. The iPhone costs $200 in the U.S., but requires a two-year subscription from AT&T for voice and data services. The iPod Touch starts at about $290.

Games, however, are cheaper on the Apple products, ranging from free to $10, while DS games are from $20 to $35. The situation is similar for Sony PSP, which lists for about $170 at, but games go from $20 to $40. Depending on game publishers' strategies, the price of games for the Apple platforms could increase in the future.

In the meantime, the iPhone and iPod have size as an advantage. Both devices easily fit in a pants pocket.

The video-game industry in general is on pace to hit $21 billion to $23 billion for the year, according to the NPD Group. As of May, the industry had surpassed sales for all of 1997.

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