Sorry, Nintendo (OTC BB: NTDOY.PK) fans. You can cross the upcoming 3-D version of its portable gaming device off your holiday wish list.
The Japanese video-game juggernaut won't release the Nintendo 3DS until early 2011, missing the seasonal spike that comes in the form of brisk sales from Thanksgiving through Christmas.
There's a lot riding on the new handheld system, and the delay is partly to blame for the company hosing down its near-term guidance. Shares are naturally getting pounded this morning.
Nintendo has been hit from all sides lately. Console price cuts by Sony (NYSE: SNE ) and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) have helped narrow the pricing gap between Wii and its higher-powered rivals. Sony and Microsoft are also promoting new motion-based controllers, which could inevitably eat away at Wii's original distinguishing strength.
The battle doesn't get any easier on the portable front. Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime told video game website Kotaku that Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) wasn't much of a threat to its DS line, but his opinion rings increasingly hollow today.
Yes, free or nearly free App Store downloads can't compete with rich cartridge-based games on a dedicated handheld. But it's hard to scoff at the price. Quite frankly, it won't be easy for Nintendo to make a serious dent with 3DS, given its price point of nearly $300 when it debuts in Japan in January. If pricing is similar in its stateside launch, the latest DS will be more expensive than the entry-level iPod touch.
In other words, Nintendo's 3DS delay isn't just fumbling the crucial holiday season. Nintendo needed the 3DS out by late November -- because who knows how big Apple's iOS will be as a gaming platform by the time the telltale 2011 holiday season rolls around?
Who needs a Grinch, when Nintendo can steal from stockings just as easily?
Will the 3DS be a hit for Nintendo, or is too expensive or too much a novelty to matter? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.