Nintendo's DS handheld has helped to significantly boost the Japanese games market, with software sales climbing by 30 per cent during the first quarter, according to a recent survey.

Market analyst company Enterbrain - drawing data from almost 35,000 retail stores across Japan - reports that Q1 revenue from hardware and software sales reached 277 billion Yen (1.9 billion Euro), compared to 207 billion Yen (1.4 billion Euro) in the same period in 2005.

The growth has been primarily attributed to Nintendo's DS, which has managed not only to outstrip sales of Sony's rival handheld system, the PSP, but also rules the software charts week after week.

Nintendo has sold more than 2.5 million units of its recently launched DS Lite to date, with a further 1.3 million sales of the original DS backing up the unassailable dominance of the platform in its native market.

A glimpse at the Japanese software sales charts on any given week will reveal at least half of the top ten games being DS exclusives, and any successful attempts to dethrone the DS appear short lived - such is the popularity of the handheld and its innovative 'touch' software titles.

Nintendo continues to capitalise on its success, sales of New Super Mario Bros. reaching in excess of 100,000 units in its sixth week on sale in Japan and reclaiming the top spot in the software sales charts.

The industry is set for further substantial growth in the coming months, boosted by the anticipated launch of both Sony's PlayStation 3 and Nintendo's Wii console later in the year.

But whilst the industry waits with baited breath for the next-gen console boom to revive the hardware and software sales, Nintendo has already made significant steps to grow the Japanese market with the undeniable success of its touch screen handheld device.

via gibiz