Nintendo Stumbles Again

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. 

Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Apple and Nintendo are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Microsoft. The Fool owns shares of Apple, and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. True to its name, The Motley Fool is made up of a motley assortment of writers and analysts, each with a unique perspective; sometimes we agree, sometimes we disagree, but we all believe in the power of learning from each other through our Foolish community.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a fan of Nintendo and has most generations of the consoles and handhelds around. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


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