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So, when will the 3DS finally drop into stores?

For this year's E3, arguably the biggest showing was of Nintendo's new handheld console, the 3DS. Yeah, we knew it was coming, but I don't think anyone expected it to be so impressive. Motion and gyro sensors, able to play 3D movies, Gamecube-quality graphics, and "passive" online? Sign me up.

Yet the biggest question in everyone's mind is this: when can I buy this crazy little piece of tech? Nintendo said "by March 2011", but that's simply too vague. Will it be a holiday item? Will we see it at the end of summer?

Here's what I think:

Nintendo really didn't NEED to launch the 3DS. I mean, it's an awesome system, but the DS Lite and DSi are still selling extremely well. Nintendo could have easily announced it at next year's E3. Yet, they're launching it within the next year. Hmmmm.

My hunch is that both the DS Lite, DSi, and DSi XL will be gettign $20 to $40 price drops for the Fall and Holiday seasons. In fact, I would go as far to say that Nintendo may even drop the DSi to the current Lite's price and stop selling the Lite altogether...well, that might not be true, but it's speculation.

Then, the holidays explode (again) with a rush to buy the cheaper DS systems. Next year rolls by, February/March comes, and Nintendo launches the 3DS. At the same time, they kill the DS Lite, the DSi XL, or both (too many skus to have all four on the market).

This is consistent with Nintendo's business model. People forget that - while Nintendo continues to innovate technology - their business model has been going in the same cycles since the NES days. Their pricing philosophy, target audience, and innovation methods are the same as they've always been.

I really do think Nintendo will drop in March 2011, beyond just what they said in their E3 conference. In May, when interviewed about Nintendo's falling sales, Nintendo said that "annual sales slipped 22 percent this year, and [they] expect the sales drop to continue through March 2011". March 2011, huh? Now where did I hear that date before...?

So, what do you think? Will the 3DS launch in the Fall, or early next year?

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