Nintendo chief says Sony portable is different

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TOKYO (AP) - Nintendo’s President Satoru Iwata is unfazed by rival Sony’s plans for an upgraded successor to the PlayStation Portable, confident that his company’s 3-D handheld game machine going on sale next month has a competitive edge.

“We are more focused on drawing newcomers to gaming and appealing to a wide range of people,” Iwata said Friday at a Tokyo news conference when asked about the possible threat from Sony. “What we do won’t change because of what another company is doing.”

Kyoto-based Nintendo Co.’s 3DS _ which goes on sale Feb. 26 in Japan for 25,000 yen ($300) and in the U.S. on March 27 for $250 _ offers glasses-free 3-D gaming.

Sony is promising that its “next generation portable” announced Thursday and code-named NGP will have graphics quality on a par with its home console PlayStation 3.

But the NGP does not offer 3-D _ making that a critical feature that could determine the winner vs. the loser in the ongoing competition between the two companies.

The price for the NGP has not been announced. Sony said it will go on sale late this year but did not give details on dates or regional rollouts.

On Thursday, Nintendo reported a 74 percent tumble in profits for the April-December period, with earnings battered by a surging yen and momentum waning on its home console Wii sales compared to the previous year.

Sony reports earnings next week.

Microsoft reported Thursday slightly lower, but better than expected, profit for the latest quarter from a year ago, as the popularity of its Kinect controllers helped boost sales of the Xbox 360 console and games.

Parakh said revenue in that division was higher than expected, indicating that people weren’t just buying Kinects _ they were getting Xbox consoles and games

Iwata acknowledged sales had lost momentum. But he stressed Nintendo, which makes Super Mario and Pokemon games, was at the top in market share, compared to Sony and Microsoft Corp. in most regions.

Nintendo has so far sold 145 million DS portable machines around the world, outpacing the 64 million of the PlayStation Portable. U.S. software company Microsoft makes the Xbox 360 home console. It does not offer a portable game machine.

All game makers face a new challenge _ the popularity of smartphones, including the iPhone, for playing games. People are also using other devices such as the iPod and iPad to play games.

Iwata said he was confident about the 3-D technology in the 3DS, which his company has been working on for many years, and that in the end customers will decide which machine they want.

He acknowledged he was being more careful about commenting on the NGP after he angered some people by brushing off Apple Inc.’s iPad as “a big iPod Touch” last year.

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