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Wednesday, 21 March, 2001, 14:28 GMT
Nintendo launches new GameBoy
GameBoy Advance
The new GameBoy is welcomed by Nintendo fans.
There were huge queues in Japan for the release of GameBoy Advance, launched by Nintendo as it seeks to cement its lead in the market for handheld games.

Customers line up to buy the GameBoy Advance console.
Customers line up to buy the GameBoy Advance console.
The company aims to ship 1.1m new GameBoys by the end of this month, and a total of 24 million units worldwide within a year, a company spokesman said.

Analysts said a lack of competition in the sector meant Nintendo's ambitions were reachable.

The company has sold 105m of the original GameBoy Colour since it was launched in 1989.

Young and old customers

Retailing at 9,800 yen ($80, 55), the new GameBoy is not a cheap toy.

But given the even higher prices charged for some non-mobile consoles, Japanese parents were not deterred.

"If kids don't have the games, they feel alienated from their friend," said Kazuhiro Katayama, a 44-year-old father of two who bought two consoles.

Besides, not all the gaming console's fans are children.

"I can't get enough of Nintendo since I was five," said 23-year-old Gary Young, a businessman from the UK.

Long queues

GameBoy's rise to fame was aided by computerised characters like the Mario Brothers and Pokemon.

More than 100 million GameBoy Colour consoles were sold last year, pushing Nintendo to the top of the league of handheld games console makers.

And its successor's reception bodes well for Nintendo's future position in the market for simple, mobile gaming consoles.

"People were lining up from 8pm on Tuesday and at any given time there were about 70-80 people lined up inside the store," said the manager of a major electronic goods store in Akihabara, Toshiyuki Fukuda.

GameBoy Advance

The new GameBoy has a colour display one and a half times wider than the original.

In addition, it has a multi-player function, new software can be downloaded via mobile phones, and it has a faster central processing unit.

Old GameBoy games will be compatible with the new console, and Nintendo will immediately offer a line-up of 25 new games.

Sales in the US, Europe and Australia will begin by the end of June.

Massive games industry

The games industry has grown rapidly during the past few years and is now reckoned to be larger than the film industry.

But it is not clear where the future lies for this fast changing sector.

One possible direction could be a move towards handheld units.

Here, mobile phones are expected to become direct competitors to the new GameBoy.

Last week, Nintendo's competitor Sony said it would rely on mobile phones to enable users of its PlayStation 2 gaming consoles to leave their homes without leaving their games behind.

Games in the home

In the home console sector, competition is fierce, with companies such as Sony, Microsoft and Sega, as well as Nintendo, struggling to earn back the money they have poured into developing non-mobile gaming machines.

Sega has already fallen victim to the tough market place and pulled out of the hardware business, though it will continue to make games for Sony's PlayStation 2 and Nintendo's new GameBoy.

Nintendo will launch its own competitor to Sony's PlayStation 2 and Microsoft's X-Box later this year, and this new machine will be compatible with the GameBoy.

Nintendo's share price fell 1% on Wednesday to 21,260 yen despite the strong initial sales of the new GameBoy.

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See also:

23 Nov 00 | Business
Sony battles in games war
21 Mar 01 | Business
Tech firms gather in gadget heaven
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