Tapwave's Zodiac, Tiger's Gizmondo, and Nokia's N-Gage have all recently tried to break into the lucrative portable-gaming sector. However, with little brand recognition and lukewarm software support, the first system has gone the way of Betamax--and the futures of the others are uncertain. While these handhelds were part of the new wave of multimedia portable gaming devices, it was Sony's PSP that was the Big Kahuna.
But even Sony's "must-have" PSP plays second fiddle to Nintendo's two portables, the Game Boy Advance and the DS, which account for roughly 78 percent of the handheld market. With two handheld giants to contend with and history stacking the odds against new entries into the portable market, it would seem that Nintendo and Sony will be going tête-à-tête, at least for a while.
Enter iRiver. The Korean company best known for portable digital music players is reportedly unveiling the iRiver G10, its first dip into mobile gaming, at the Consumer Electronics Show taking place now in Las Vegas.
According to various reports around the Web, the unit will run on the Windows Mobile 5.0 operating system, have multiple storage options of 4GB or 8GB, and feature WiBro wireless Internet functionality. Its 4-inch 800x480-pixel color display (the PSP's screen, by comparison, is a 4.3-inch 480x272-pixel screen) and takes up much of the unit's face. However, in a move similar to T-Mobile's Sidekick phones, the front slides up, revealing two D pads, and select, start, and on/off buttons.
However, none of the aforementioned details for the G10 have been confirmed by iRiver, and inquires to representatives for the company had not been answered as of press time.
GameSpot will have more information from CES soon.
What iRiver needs to do is use the game function to set it apart from other PMPs, not as a competitor to Sony and Nintendo. Don't sell it in the game section of electronic stores (Circuit City, Best Buy, etc.), which is too overcrowded already, especially with two higher profile systems (PS3, Rev) on the way. Instead, keep it next to the iPods and use the game function to make it seem better than the iPod.
Then they should sell games as downloadable content so you can buy and download games just like you do songs now. That would actually be innovative and keep iRiver from having to convince retailers to find shelf space for games for an unproven device, which is a mosty impossible task.
If the games are good and affordably priced, the gaming function might catch on and begin to grow and then, and only then, can iRiver consider nipping at Nintendo and Sony. In other words, they have to build up to it, not jump in with the sharks right away. Otherwise, they'll get eaten alive.
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