Nintendo all set to release 3DS XL on August 19

Sticking with its annual tradition of scaling up the handheld hardware line, Nintendo has come up with Nintendo 3DS XL – an upgrade from the existing hardware.

Nintendo has steadily improved its hardware each year, moving from the primitive, 2006-era Nintendo DS Lite to systems with better networking, added on-board storage, larger 2D screens, and – with the launch of the 3DS last year– a new 3D screen technology. The new 3DS XL is a natural next step in this line of annual updates, and conveniently gives Nintendo an opportunity to attract new consumers who are just now becoming aware of the imminent launch of the Nintendo Wii U console later this year. The new line is expected to hit the market on August 19.

The larger screens bring along with it a higher price even with the 3DS XL. The bigger version will be available for $199.99, up from the current $169.99 price tag for the 3DS.

At a time when many industry observers see Nintendo as a company besieged by competition from tablets and mobile phones, the 3DS XL provides Nintendo with an opportunity keep itself relevant. It will soon be selling a handheld that not only has the very newest Mario games available, but also has a spacious 3D screen and immediate compatibility with Nintendo DS software. It will even have access to select classic titles from previous Nintendo systems as modestly priced downloads.

Nintendo’s prime competitor, Apple, continues to roll out annual hardware revisions to its iPhone and iPad devices each year and successive devices have immediate access to an App Store stuffed with software developed for previous hardware models.

Nintendo appears to have taken a page from Apple’s book, and is now doing annual hardware revisions of its own, all while maintaining compatibility with a vast library of software and gradually building the means to sell that software direct to consumers through an online store. This isn’t a knock against Nintendo: if the market responds positively to something that a company can reasonably do, it would be foolish for them not to pursue it.

If nothing else, perhaps a good sense of its own historical weaknesses is helping Nintendo to incorporate some of the strengths of its competitors while retaining its own identity as a video game hardware and software company. That, in itself, should be immensely interesting to watch in the coming months and years.

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