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Nintendo's Latest Power-Up: Netflix

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Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX  ) is no stranger to gamers, with its streaming video available on all three major consoles. Now it's coming at you on Nintendo's (OTC BB: NTDOY.PK) 3DS as well.

The Japanese gaming giant announced yesterday that Netflix subscribers will be able to stream from the service's digital library on their 3-D handheld devices when it hits the market later this month.

Naturally, owners will need Wi-Fi access to make this happen, but there's another treat on this front: Nintendo and AT&T (NYSE: T  ) are teaming up to offer free -- and automatic --  3DS connectivity through more than 10,000 AT&T hotspots.

Is this the game-changer that will help Nintendo turn its $250 portable gadget into a blockbuster? The ability to stream Netflix video will help, but owners of Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) iPod touch devices have had the same benefit for months. Nintendo's 3DS is hitting the market at a higher price point than Apple's entry-level iPod touch, so it will need something else.

Thankfully, Nintendo already has a few other things in the works for the March 27 launch.

How do 3-D movie trailers sound? Why settle for drab coming attractions on your computer, when you can see them pop off the screen -- without needing special glasses -- on the 3DS?

Movie studios will be able to promote their upcoming 3-D theatrical releases, but Nintendo may be the bigger winner here, as 3DS owners make their friends envious of the ability to stream high-tech trailers. Nintendo will also roll out a proprietary short-form video service, on which Nintendo-vetted videos will be available for streaming. Suddenly, the 3DS doesn't seem like the $250 paperweight that I had written off earlier this year.

In another 3DS-exclusive bonus, a future software update will allow for 3-D video recording. I didn't see that coming, figuratively or literally. I don't know whether Nintendo is too late to topple Apple's iOS empire, but at least it's loading up with plenty of eye-popping ammo.

Will the 3DS be a hit for Nintendo, or is it too expensive or too much of a novelty to matter? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

Apple, Netflix, and Nintendo are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. The Fool has written puts on Apple. The Fool owns shares of Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

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, except for Netflix. 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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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On March 03, 2011, at 1:43 PM, melegross wrote:

    The 3Ds is a game machine first and foremost. These are secondary features which most people won't be needing or wanting.

    When I first got my iPhone 3G, there were also movies and Tv shows, and in the beginning, it was existing watching on it. But it became tiring on the small screen, and so I gradually stopped. It don't see this as being a big draw.

    I also don't see people wanting this because they can watch 3D movie trailers. What a lame feature, really.

    Nintendo is losing sales and marketshare, and so they come up with this.

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Rick Munarriz

Rick has been writing for Motley Fool since 1995 where he's a Consumer and Tech Stocks Specialist. Yes, that's a long time. He's been an analyst for Motley Fool Rule Breakers and a portfolio lead analyst for Motley Fool Supernova since each newsletter service's inception. He earned his BBA and MBA from the University of Miami, and he now lives a block from his alma mater.

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