Here’s some television hardware news out of Japan worth keeping an eye on: According to the Tokyo-based J-Cast Business News, Nintendo recently began taking Internet orders for “DS TV” (link on the company’s Japanese site), an antenna/converter hookup for Nintendo’s extraordinarily popular handheld DS line. This was intended as a soft launch, but within hours, they were overwhelmed by orders.
J-Cast cites a magazine survey suggesting that nearly 20 percent of DS owners professed strong interest in the device, set for a retail price of 6,800 Yen (about $62). A lot of that enthusiasm seems to be driven by the DS TV software, which takes advantage of the DS’s trademark dual screens — according to J-Cast’s somewhat eccentric English translation, not only can you watch TV on one screen, you can use the other to write memos and do screen captures, among other functions. (Including something called “TV-yan” — “to show characters that give the user the feeling of watching the television together.” OK then!)
So what does this mean for the U.S. market, or the future of television? As longtime Nintendo fans might expect, that’s still a mystery.
The worldwide install base for the DS is truly massive (currently 55.5 million, according to VGChartz), and the potential of adding a multifunction TV application on top of it could change several industries, especially when you consider the DS’s capacity to browse the web with Opera (if awkwardly). Then you’re suddenly looking at a game console that’s also a robust multimedia platform. (Watch the local broadcast of 24 while sitting in the park, then with a few taps of the DS control stylus, catch some YouTube videos, too.)
But that’s all speculative, and Nintendo’s corporate culture is notoriously slow at promoting features outside its core competency with games. And while the high demand for DS TV from Japanese consumers suggests it’ll soon be on sale in the States, that’s not certain either — many console games and peripherals popular in Japan never make the trip across the Pacific. Early Wednesday I sent a message to Nintendo’s PR firm, asking this very question, but received no reply by publication time. So stay, as they say, tuned.