I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Nintendo is releasing yet another version of the DS this year: The DSi XL. If the name doesn’t give it away, allow me to explain: it’s the DSi, but bigger.
The latest in the Iwata Asks series of interviews has some info as to the design concepts, including a bit of discussion as to the name:
Iwata: I feel that I owe everyone an apology with regards to the name. Just when the ship was getting ready to leave harbor, I caused it to capsize. If you want, you can disclose here the terrible state we got into regarding the name. (laughs)
Kuwahara: (laughs) When Fujino-san, another designer and I were coming up with the name, we thought about it together in secret.
Fujino: We considered a lot of names, didn’t we? Nintendo DSi Comfort, Nintendo DSi Executive…
Kuwahara: Nintendo DSi Premium was also suggested.
Iwata: I seem to remember that Nintendo DSi Living was also suggested… (emphasis mine)
Kuwahara: But none of those names were really any good…
Iwata: Right. I don’t mean to be rude to the people who thought up those names, but that’s how I felt. There’s also the fact that when Japanese people think up names in English, they are going to sound strange to English native speakers but then when people from overseas suggest things, they won’t quite sound right to Japanese ears. That’s how we hit upon one name to use worldwide: Nintendo DSi XL, at least at one time.
Ok, cool. There’s some discussion going on about the DS as a lifestyle product, and I assume it comes as no surprise that I’m geared up about this. There is certainly some media buzz about the DSi XL possibly being Nintendo’s attempt to break into the burgeoning e-reader market. This site (en francais) has posted a hands-on video using the 100 Classic Book Collection software (which is still not released in the US, presumably to piss me off).
This is all well and good, but what about actual e-books? If Nintendo has any sense, they’ll at the very least include a PDF reader and at best include all of the compatibility features of the Sony e-reader. The SD card slot should make storage a virtual non-issue, and the dual screens could provide a unique e-reading experience — one that feels more like reading an actual book.
The DSi XL will not do particularly well in the US if it is not an e-reader. The reaction of most potential consumers will be “Bigger? Why would I want that?”. Some of the more hardcore will be excited to see their favorite DS titles on a larger screen, but not many. But if we’re given a reason to buy a Nintendo product instead of the Nook or Kindle, you know we’ll bite.