New Nintendo DSi Won’t Be Sold In U.S. Until ‘Well Into 2009′

Updated DS, featuring cameras and MP3 player, will be available in Japan November 1.

SAN FRANCISCO — At the kickoff of a two-day press event to hype this fall’s new Wii and DS games, Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime told reporters that the newly announced Nintendo DSi won’t be shipping Stateside for a while.

The revised system may be released on November 1 in Japan and by spring 2009 in Europe, but it won’t come to the U.S. until “well into calendar year 2009,” according to Fils-Aime. The Nintendo president noted that sales of the current DS Lite are still strong in the U.S., diminishing any urgency to sell the new model. By contrast, DS sales in Japan have slowed enough that the system is occasionally beaten in weekly sales by the PSP or Wii.

The DSi will include two 0.3 megapixel cameras, slightly larger screens, music playback (in MP3 AAC format) and SD card storage, though its main feature is still to play DS games. Taking a hint from its big brother, Wii, the new device will have a built-in Web browser and the Nintendo DS Store. It will no longer have a Game Boy Advance cartridge slot, however.

At one point in his presentation, Fils-Aime acknowledged that the DSi’s new functions won’t necessarily make it “the world’s best music player or camera,” but he positioned the device as suitable for “new forms of entertainment.”

Nintendo did not announce any specific DSi software or a price for the machine, which will sell for about $180 in Japan. After his presentation, Fils-Aime told a group of financial experts who pressed him for pricing info that the price in Japan should not be interpreted as the price for the handheld’s U.S. release.

“We set our own price based on market and demand,” he said. The Nintendo DS has been the company’s most successful handheld platform, selling over 78 million units since the line launched in late 2004, according to Nintendo financial reports.

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