Free 3G wireless for Nintendo's next handheld?

Nintendo is feeling the sting of competition from the iPhone. At least, that's the feeling one gets when reading Nintendo president Satoru Iwata's thoughts on the future of Nintendo handhelds. According to a Financial Times piece, Iwata suggests the next Nintendo handheld (and to be clear, he isn't talking about the big screen DS launching in Japan next month) might include free 3G wireless, much like the Amazon Kindle does.

The challenge is to offer the immediacy of downloading an inexpensive new game, anywhere, anytime, without forcing the user into some kind of monthly data plan. From the FT piece:

“Only people who can pay thousands of yen a month [in mobile phone subscriptions] can be iPhone customers. That doesn’t fit Nintendo customers because we make amusement products,” Mr Iwata said.

The Nintendo Wii has its own challenges to face. In a Mainichi Newspaper article translated by Gamespot Iwata is quoted as admitting "The Wii has stalled. Games of high demand could not be continuously released and the good mood has chilled."

That probably seems like stating the obvious to any gamers reading this. Nintendo turned its back on the 'core gamer' and went after the 'casual market' in a big way and that scheme worked well for a few years, but it seems to be petering out now. Among the rumored solutions that may help Nintendo turn things around for the Wii: Netflix streaming (apparently the Holy Grail for game consoles these days) and a possible Wii HD coming much sooner than new console offerings from Microsoft or Sony.

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