Nintendo to Sell Premium Model of Game Boy Advance
Tue January 7, 2003 05:12 AM ET
By Yuka Obayashi
TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese videogame giant Nintendo Co. Ltd. said on Tuesday it would launch a premium version of its Game Boy Advance hand-held videogame player in Japan on February 14 in an effort to boost flagging sales.
The new product, Game Boy Advance SP, which can be folded and has a lighting system that allows it to be used in poorly lit places, will carry a price tag of 12,500 yen ($105), 3,700 yen ($31) more than the existing model.
The new player, which will also have a rechargeable battery, can play all existing games designed for the Game Boy Advance console and most games for its Game Boy predecessor.
"The new model is aimed at expanding the customer base for the Game Boy Advance by providing a more settled look and lower power consumption," a spokesman told reporters, adding the company was hoping to attract players above school age.
"We aim to sell a total of two million SP units by the end of March."
The move comes after Nintendo, which dominates the global portable game system market, suffered poor sales in its portable game operations, which had been supporting the firm's solid profit growth, in the six months through September due in part to a lack of blockbuster game titles.
The company's downward revision in October of its 2002/03 hardware shipment target for Game Boy Advance by 21 percent and its software goal by 12 percent raised investor concerns about the firm's growth picture.
"The new product's sales estimates were discounted into our forecast, therefore we will not change our annual shipment target," the spokesman said.
The creator of "Pokemon" games said it planned to release the new player in North America, Europe and Australia in March.
During the year-end shopping season, Nintendo enjoyed good sales of new versions of the Pokemon game series that were released in Japan in November for the Game Boy Advance player.
Analysts said solid demand for the Pokemon games had helped hardware sales for Game Boy Advance.
Shares in Nintendo closed down 0.43 percent at 11,500 yen ($96), compared with a 0.65 percent decline in the benchmark Nikkei average.
Nintendo's stock price has nearly halved in 2002 as the gamemaker, which also sells GameCube home videogame consoles, faces stiff competition with Sony Corp., which has a big lead with its popular PlayStation 2, and Microsoft Corp., a recent entrant with its Xbox system.
Errr...ugly. Where are the shoulder buttons?