One Week, One Million Screens

If, as Nintendo (OTC BB: NTDOY) would have us believe, "touching is good," they must be pretty pleased this week. Word is, American consumers put their hands all over half a million units during the first week of sales for the firm's long-awaited Game Boy DS. When you consider that the device goes for a couple hundred bucks, you'll see that we're talking about a lot of money -- and it's not all for Nintendo.

The DS is short for dual-screen. You get twice as much to look at with this portable, and the display also functions as an input device, not so different from a palmOne handheld.

Personally, I have always thought the two-screen idea was goofy. If I'm going to spend some dough on pocketable e-crack, I'm going to choose Sony's (NYSE: SNE  ) multimedia PlayStation Portable. But Sony's way late to this game, releasing the PSP in Japan next week but launching in the U.S. in March. By then, the DS may have the market wrapped up.

Among the Nintendo's other selling points are a wireless chat system that allows up to 16 people at a time to send notes and drawings to each other right through the ether. Of course, the wireless linkup also allows players to compete head-to-head in various virtual contests from the racetrack to the golf links to the gridiron.

No matter which platform is more successful, the rollouts will be good news for investors in game makers such as Electronic Arts (Nasdaq: ERTS  ) . That publisher's Madden NFL is already available for the DS, as well as Spider-Man from the team of Activision (Nasdaq: ATVI  ) and Marvel Enterprises (NYSE: MVL  ) .

The huge numbers offer just one more confirmation that video games are a huge business. Major hits such as Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) Halo 2 have the kind of opening days that moviemakers dream of: $125 million in 24 hours. Investors who think they've already missed the boat need only take a look at results from companies such as Electronics Boutique (Nasdaq: ELBO  ) to realize it's only just begun.

For related Foolishness:

Seth Jayson loves his video games but tries to play one at a time. At the time of publication, he had shares of Marvel Enterprises but no positions in any other firm mentioned. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here. Fool rules are here.

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