The Japanese are doing it again. According to ANN, am3, a maker of data cards with anime movies of them for the Gameboy Advanced and DS in Japan, has announced a new system that will allow DS owners to download anime, manga and other content to SD cards and be viewed on the DS. This new system, to be called DSvision will include a starter kit consisting of a micro SD card, micro card adapter for the DS, and USB card reader. There will also be an online store that will start with 300 titles at start up in March of 2008, that will be expanded to 10,000 by 2010. And, unlike other addons for the DS, this one is the first approved by Nintendo, and the first to have an online store tied to it.
This is definitely an interesting idea. The DS is already well established as an entertainment machine, and users have been coming up with their own hacks to put their own games and other applications on the DS. I can actually see reading manga on it as being more plausible than on an iphone. The DS has 2 LCD color screens, each 3 inches in size. This is only just slightly smaller than the iphone, but with the dual screens, full page spreads across them would be possible. Holding it on it’s side (which is how I would image reading manga on it) would also duplicate the book reading experience, something that seems to be keeping ebooks from really succeeding here in the US. Only the imagination could limit what else could be done with the dual screens and touch pad. But best of all, the DS is a LOT less expensive. Only $129 new compared to the iphone’s $299.
Of course, there’s no word yet on how much the content will be, if it will be DRM’ed, or what kind of reformatting will have to take place to view it. But manga in some sort of digital form is the future for manga. Even though print sales have been falling in Japan, online sales have been rising. So, this is a smart move by Nintendo. Even though they emphasize the gaming aspects of their hardware, it good to also recognize what the users want. And it’s becoming increasingly obvious that users want to be able to take their anime, manga and music anywhere. Adding these to a great gaming platform makes the DS what Sony wanted the PSP to be. The ultimate portable entertainment system.
Now, let’s just hope that, if the DSvision is successful in Japan, Nintendo will think it’s worth the chance to bring it here. With the hardware already established widely here, it may be easier to get people to try reading on the DS. It wouldn’t be a single use gadget, and the impulse to try would be great. I know I would. At least once.