Report: Panasonic axes Jungle handheld

Panasonic is nixing the Jungle portable-gaming device that it was developing, Reuters reports. Company says changes in the market forced its hand.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
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The Jungle reportedly has been slashed and burned.
The Jungle reportedly has been slashed and burned. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

If you were hoping to get your hands on the Panasonic Jungle, you'll need to settle for something else.

Panasonic has chosen to discontinue its efforts on the portable-gaming device, Reuters reported today. The company apparently announced it had "decided to suspend further development due to changes in the market and in our own strategic direction," Reuters reported.

The Jungle handheld was first revealed late last year. The device was slated to compete with the Nintendo DS and Sony's PlayStation Portable. However, Panasonic had a somewhat different idea with the Jungle. Rather than allow developers to create titles and have gamers buy them in-store, the Jungle was supposed to play only online games and massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs). Panasonic said at the time that it believed it was doing something unique in the portable-gaming market.

"We know other companies out there have traditional handheld gaming covered," Panasonic said in an e-mail in November. "We're doing something very different."

But Panasonic's device, which featured a clamshell design and included both a keyboard and touch pad, wasn't facing the same competition last year as it would have this year.

The Nintendo 3DS, which launched (and subsequently sold out) in Japan over the weekend, includes two screens and the ability for gamers to play titles in 3D without special glasses. It will ship in the U.S. for $249 on March 27. And at year's end, Sony plans to update its portable-gaming lineup with the Next Generation Portable, which promises PlayStation 3-like graphics and dual thumbsticks.

Simply put, those new products might deliver more than what the Jungle could. And Panasonic, with its acknowledgment of "changes in the market," seemed to understand that quite clearly.

Now that the Jungle has apparently been clear-cut, there's no telling what the future looks like for Panasonic Cloud Entertainment Co. That division was set up as a subsidiary of Panasonic when the Jungle project first kicked off.

Panasonic did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.