Two things are happening this month that will make a lot of young (and maybe not so young) people smile. First, spring will arrive -- and it can't get here a minute too soon, as far as I'm concerned. Second, Sony's (NYSE:SNE) major foray into the handheld-gaming market begins in North America right on the heels of the seasonal change -- March 24, according to a press release that I recently found in my email box.

Of course, no one knows just yet whether spring and Sony will be a good combination. (Nintendo is hoping it isn't). The Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP), which will be able to play movies on a proprietary format as well as games, is coming to retail shelves on a marketing wave that's sure to grow once the release date is within striking distance. I can feel the collective cultural hum of hype already.

I hadn't been thinking much about the new system lately, so when I read the release, the first thing that came to mind was Nintendo's new DS portable unit (obviously). It's doing well, but I can't wait to see how its opening week stacks up against that of Sony and its onslaught. The electronics giant should, at the very least, have the opportunity to match Nintendo's success: The company has stated that it wants to have 1 million PSPs in the retail channels on release day.

If you had asked my prediction weeks ago, I'd possibly have a different answer. But right now, my gut tells me the PSP has a good chance of beating the DS over time. Sony is arguably the name in video game hardware right now -- although Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Xbox has been gaining some cool brand equity lately. So I believe that teenagers and adults alike will be naturally attracted to it.

The second thing to cross my mind was how my portfolio would benefit from a new platform in the market. I own two companies that are going to be quite happy to license and/or publish some product for the little PSP fella: Disney (NYSE:DIS) and Marvel Enterprises (NYSE:MVL). Both will be delighted to see their respective library of characters prancing around in shrunken 3-D images. Disney certainly has a heart for gaming, and Marvel is particularly pleased that the Spider-Man 2 movie will be included with the PSPs for the launch. That was a natural strategic move, considering that the film was the result of a joint venture between Sony and Marvel.

Investors should look at Activision (NASDAQ:ATVI) and Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:ERTS) in terms of riding the next wave of platform generation. In the long term, both should do very well. Sony, on the other hand, has been a laggard in the marketplace over the past several years, so I'd advise -- ironically enough -- against getting too excited over the company that actually makes the hardware.

You have to wonder what they're thinking at Nintendo HQ. Remember when the company was synonymous with console nirvana? It would never abdicate its throne, right? Well, Nintendo is still king of the handhelds -- for now. Stay tuned.

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Fool contributor Steven Mallas owns shares of Disney and Marvel Enterprises. The Fool has a disclosure policy.