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Nintendo to release slimmer DS handheld

Device, set for March release, fits with company's history of releasing smaller versions of its handhelds.

Nintendo plans to release a slimmer, lighter version of its hit Nintendo DS handheld video game system, the company said Thursday.

The device, known as the Nintendo DS Lite, is expected to hit Japan in March. According to some published reports, it could carry a price tag of around $145.

According to David Cole, president of entertainment and video game analyst firm DFC Intelligence, the move fits with Nintendo's recent history of releasing smaller and smaller versions of its handheld players. He pointed to the company's original Game Boy Advance, which was superceded by the Game Boy Advance SP.

He also noted that the company has traditionally lowered the price of the original devices upon the release of the smaller systems. Thus, Cole said, the original Nintendo DS would likely continue to be sold even after the launch of the Lite version, and would probably have its price slashed.

Nintendo would not comment on pricing.

In any case, Cole praised the move and said he wouldn't be surprised to see Sony come out with a smaller version of its own hit device, the PlayStation Portable.

"I think it's definitely a good idea," Cole said. "That's just the way the portable market goes. You look at cell phones and iPods...people are buying multiple versions of the system."