Analyst: Nintendo 3DS sales won’t top previous handheld

Nintendo’s new 3DS handheld found great success in the U.S. last month, setting a new day-one sales record over its predecessors according to the company. And contrary to earlier reports, the device has not been seeing “record returns” in Europe. However, sales of the 3DS in Nintendo’s homeland have been declining since its late February release. Last week even saw Sony’s PlayStation Portable system – first launched in 2004 – outselling it.

Highlighting the possibility the system faces an uphill battle in meeting Nintendo’s expectations is new research that claims while the 3DS will certainly prove amazingly popular in the long run, it will not match the startling success of Nintendo’s last handheld platform.

Analyst: Nintendo 3DS sales won't top previous handheld
Source: IHS

Researcher IHS published its findings this week suggesting that within the first few years of its lifespan, the Nintendo 3DS will sell around 20 million less units than the DS did during the same time frame.

“By 2015, IHS forecasts a global installed base of 70 million 3DS devices. This compares to total sales of DS/DS Lite of 91 million at a comparable point in its sales cycle,” the report states.

Justifying its prediction, IHS argues that “growing competition” from smartphones, tablets and other handheld multimedia devices will limit the device’s overall appeal.

Piers Harding-Rolls, the firm’s lead games analyst, points to the company’s decision to present the 3DS as an online, network-capable device – in concert with its graphical and technological improvements – as a boon.

“Nintendo’s accent on network services in the key U.S. market represents an attempt to convince users to carry their 3DS systems with them at all times and to engage with the platform everyday and in every place. This engagement strategy…is key to Nintendo competing with upcoming devices from Sony and also from non-specialist smart phones, entertainment devices and tablets, which offer a legitimate alternative to handheld consoles,” Harding-Rolls said.

Though certain aspects of the 3DS’ networking abilities are presently enabled (such as SpotPass and online play), others, including the eShop, are noticeably absent. The service, which will let players download apps and 3D movie trailers, is tentatively scheduled for May.

MyCE reached out to Nintendo of America for their thoughts on the report. This post will be updated if the company issues a comment.