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Friday, April 10, 2009

Nintendo aims to turn DS device into learning tool, guide


Staff writer

Nintendo Co. said Thursday it will soon introduce a service that teachers can use to send quizzes and other school assignments from their personal computers to students who have the game giant's DS hand-held console.

The consoles will also allow users to get information, including maps and guides, at shopping malls and museums.

Nintendo Senior Managing Director Shigeru Miyamoto said the Museum of Kyoto will start providing such services on April 28.

"All you need to do is bring a DS to such places," Miyamoto told a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo. "The important point is that you don't have to buy any software." He added that the program was also easy to update.

"I hope the improved convenience will increase the number of people with DS consoles. That's our main goal," said Miyamoto, the developer of "Mario" and many other popular Nintendo games.

Some elementary schools in Japan already use Nintendo DS software to teach English and kanji. But the company said it will be difficult to get the machines into widespread use at schools.

"It's a grand vision to have every student at every school using a DS (as a learning tool)," Nintendo President and CEO Satoru Iwata told the news conference. "It will take time and energy to reach that goal because the DS (as a game machine) has been viewed by teachers as an enemy for a long time."

Miyamoto also announced at the conference that the company expects to roll out "Wii Sports Resort" in June in Japan and July overseas. He did not elaborate on the new sports game for the Wii video game console.

Last month, the Kyoto-based game maker said global sales of its hand-held DS topped 100 million on March 6. The machines first went on sale in November 2004.

The number combines sales of the original DS, the improved DS Lite and the third-generation DSi, which went on sale in Japan last year and on April 3 in Europe and two days later in the U.S.

The company also said last month that global sales of its Wii game console have topped 50 million units since debuting in North America in November 2006.

But the ongoing recession is affecting Nintendo's profits. The game maker said in January its net profit for the April-December period fell 18 percent to ¥212.5 billion, hampered by the strong yen. It also cut its full-year forecast.

But Iwata said that Nintendo is resisting cutting prices of its consoles even amid the recession and that it wants to compete with its rivals in content.

"We want to think about how to become No. 1 on people's wish lists," he said.



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