Nokia’s N-Gage

WSJ writes that the gaming device (which is also a cellphone) from Nokia scheduled for release next week may become a surprise hit:

Nokia’s clout has attracted retailers, game-review Web sites and the world’s top game developers. Now, critics say that when the N-Gage launches on Tuesday, it could be a surprise hit, thanks to Nokia’s clever use of networking technology to encourage competition between gamers.

“If Nokia can get a number of good titles out there, particularly ones that capitalize on the communications features of the product, then they have a good opportunity,” says Ken Hyers, a senior games analyst with U.S.-based research firm In-Stat/MDR. The launch will be closely watched. Nokia has just unveiled a reorganization designed to give investors better insight into its investments in new products, like the N-Gage, and how they fare compared with the core business of making mobile phones.

The new cellphone plays games stored on memory cards, which are sold and packaged much like the game cartridges developed for Nintendo’s Game Boy Advance console. Unlike the Advance, it has Bluetooth wireless technology that allows multiple players to compete in real-time within 10 meters of one another. And players can use telecommunications networks to upload their best moves and top performances onto a Web site for friends to view, then download and play against. Nearly all the new games take advantage of the N-Gage’s networking capabilities.

[What could] help the N-Gage succeed — is the use of networking technology to enhance competition. There’s too much lag time on GPRS cellular networks for real-time multiplayer gaming, so N-Gage users won’t be able to play each other across town. But if they’re within about 10 meters of one another, they will be able to do it by using Bluetooth.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.