Nintendo (NTDOY) announced it will launch its 3-D gaming device in February. The console will cost about $300. The 3DS will go on sale in the U.S. and Europe about a month after it's introduced in its home market of Japan.
Nintendo's Wii sales have bested those of Microsoft's (MSFT) Xbox 360 and Sony's (SNE) PS3 for over two years. Nintendo has begun to lose that lead as its rivals have cut prices. Microsoft and Sony will launch motion-sensitive versions of their products soon, which will make them even more competitive with the Wii.
The new competition leaves Nintendo in a difficult spot, and the launch of a 3-D product may be one of the few ways it has to regain a sales advantage in the industry. The 3DS is a handheld device, which means that it will not compete directly with the Xbox and PS3, but it could help Nintendo's overall revenue nonetheless.
We still don't know whether gamers will buy 3-D devices. The technology has begun to have some success in theaters and a number of 3-D television monitors will come to market in the next year, but the size of the consumer base for the technology is untested.