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Thursday, 6 February, 2003, 08:47 GMT
Nokia engages with mobile gaming
The N-gage handset, Nokia
Talk and play while you walk and travel
Nokia has unveiled details of its N-Gage handheld game phone gadget.

The move puts it in direct competition with Asian giant Nintendo whose Gameboy dominates the market for handheld games.

Sega is signed up to provide titles for Nokia's N-Gage machine.

The N-Gage launch is part of a wider strategy by all handset makers to get consumers doing more with their phones.

Battle drawn

Nokia first announced its plans for the N-Gage in November last year.

At a press conference on Wednesday, the company said it will be available during the fourth quarter of 2003 around the world, but a price has not been set.

Although many of the latest phones have better games on board thanks to colour screens and fast processors, the N-Gage will be for more dedicated fans.

Games for the N-Gage will be on memory cards that slot into the gadget.

Sega is planning to release titles featuring its mascot Sonic the Hedgehog on the N-Gage.

In launching the N-Gage Nokia is taking on Nintendo which has sold more than 24 million Gameboy Advance units worldwide since its launch in March 2001.

Gameboy Advance SP, Nintendo
The Gameboy is continuing to evolve
To compete with Nintendo's Gameboy that sells for 130euro (85), Nokia will probably have to be prepared to make a loss on every N-Gage sold.

According to figures from Telecom One the Nokia 7210 is currently the most popular games phone and it sells for more than twice the price of the Gameboy on some UK networks.

A new dedicated device is likely to be even more expensive.

Earlier this year Nintendo launched the latest version of the Gameboy Advance, the SP, which sheaths the gadget in a sleek steel shell.

Slow burn

Although more sophisticated games are appearing on handsets, it remains to be seen whether people will be willing to buy a more dedicated games playing machine.

Nokia is hoping Bluetooth short-range radio technology will prove a draw as it will let N-Gage owners take each other on.

Mobile phone firms and handset makers are keen to get people doing more with their phones and making greater use of data services such as games, sound and images.

Games for phones are slowly catching on thanks to the emergence of phones like the Nokia 7210 and 7650, the Sharp GX10 and services such as Vodafone Live which let people download titles.

Telecom One reports that the number of phone games downloaded from its portal leapt by 250% in January when compared to the same period in December.

Newer phones can run download and run Java games and sites such as Midlet.org are springing up as clearing houses for these titles.

BBC Micro fans can even relive the glory of classic title Repton on their Nokia 7650 phone thanks to game maker Masabi.

See also:

23 Jan 03 | Business
05 Nov 02 | Technology
19 Oct 02 | Technology
25 Oct 02 | Technology
01 Jan 03 | Technology
16 Apr 02 | Entertainment
20 Oct 02 | Technology
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