Mobile phone maker Nokia entered a new market on Monday as it unveiled seven new devices, including one that doubles as a game console and takes aim at Nintendo's teenage hit product Gameboy Advance.
At its annual mobile Internet conference, this time in Munich, Nokia showed the N-Gage -- its first mobile phone that also allows consumers to play quality games, which are stored and distributed on memory cards, on a color screen.
The device, which will be introduced in February of 2003, is a direct challenge to Japan's Nintendo, which is expected to sell 12 million units of its Gameboy Advance across the globe this year, according to market research firm ScreenDigest.
Like Nintendo, Nokia said it would also become a games publisher.
"Nintendo is the one owning this market," Nokia's Executive Vice President for Mobile Phones, Anssi Vanjoki, told Reuters in an interview.
The games market is also contested by Sony Corp, Microsoft Corp and others aiming to move their console games to mobile devices but which have so far made no big announcements.
"The market is underdeveloped," Vanjoki said, adding that Nokia's innovations came from its position as a wireless player. The new device will allow multiple gamers to play against each other over short-range wireless Bluetooth connections or the wide-area mobile phone network.
The announcement, the first major push from any mobile phone maker to cater to the games market, hit analysts by surprise.
"They've stolen a march on Microsoft," said Neil Mawston at market research group Strategy Analytics, adding that Nokia still needed killer games to succeed in its new market.
Nokia said Sega, a leading Japanese games publisher, will develop games for the N-Gage device.
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