An analyst at Pacific Coast Securities made waves today when he claimed that the next iteration of the Nintendo DS is complete. According to the analyst, the new DS "is thinner (it has no GBA port), has onboard storage, and larger screens."
He went on to claim that Nintendo has no plan of releasing the new version "until sales begin to tail off in all three major geographies."
Wow. So does that mean we will never see another Nintendo DS? Because as far as I can tell, there is no sign of tapering sales and people are running to stores just to have different colors.
Regardless of whether you're a PlayStation zealot or even a Sega fanboy who can't find it in yourself to buy a Nintendo product, you must admit that Nintendo has been incredibly successful with its DS. And if you ask me, sales will continue to be strong and each update will compound growth until one thing finally happens--the Nintendo DS will become the most successful gaming device of all time.
So far, in just over three years, Nintendo has sold just under 54 million Nintendo DSs. Compare that to the Game Boy's total units sold of about 199 million and the PlayStation 2's 120 million units shipped, and you can see just how close this sales battle really is.
The Nintendo DS was a surprise to everyone besides Satoru Iwata and the gang. Who would have thought that a handheld gaming device that offered two screens, a stylus, and more interactivity would have done so well in such a short period of time?
And let's not forget also that just after the DS was made available, Sony announced and released the PSP, which some believed would be the first hardware solution to finally supplant Nintendo as the leader in the handheld gaming market. And after just a few short months, we realized how wrong that assertion really was.
Nintendo gets it. It's as simple as that. No other gaming company has understood what it takes to be successful in the handheld market. A number have tried: Sega, Sony, Tiger Telematics, and many more. But at the end of the day, the majority of people running to stores for a handheld gaming device only have one company on their minds--Nintendo.
So why will the DS become the most popular gaming device of all time? It's simple really. If you look at sales figures and the rapid rise of the Game Boy and PlayStation 2, one attribute of each product's availability is blatantly clear: both were available for quite a long time. It took 18 years for the Game Boy to finally reach that 199 million units sold mark, and after 7 years of availability, Sony has been able to send 120 million units out the door.
But after this holiday season rush is over and we get the sales numbers to round out the year, it wouldn't surprise me if Nintendo closes it out with over 56 million units sold. In fact, if you look at recent sales figures, the company has averaged about 400,000 units sold each month, which should easily increase once Black Friday rolls around.
If we were to take a rough average of just how many Game Boys of all versions were sold over its life span, that number would come out to roughly 11.1 million units each year. On the other hand, the DS, which was released in 2004, has averaged about 18 million units sold over its lifespan. And while it's difficult to compare 3 years to 18, consider how many different Game Boy versions were released over the years for it to achieve such amazing sales numbers. Don't you think Nintendo will employ the same strategy with the DS?
In many ways, the DS has supplanted the Game Boy as the future of Nintendo. And while most people today correlate Nintendo handhelds with the Game Boy, the same will not be said in the future. Simply put, the DS is Nintendo's future.
In all likelihood, Nintendo will follow the same release schedule with the DS as it did with the Game Boy: keep releasing new versions, and once it hits 15 years, replace it with something new and innovative.
Today, the Nintendo DS simply dominates the video game industry. And while other devices may come and go and set sales records, the DS will always be there. And because of that and the immense enjoyment you receive from playing it, I don't see the DS going anywhere until 2019.
And by that time, look for us to be discussing the DS' amazing 250 million units sold mark.