(Updates with wireless service plan in sixth paragraph.)
Sept. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Sony Corp. will release its new PlayStation Vita portable game player in Japan on Dec. 17, aiming to narrow the sales gap with Nintendo Co.’s 3DS.
Sony has no plan to reduce the new handheld’s price and will use NTT DoCoMo Inc., Japan’s largest mobile phone carrier, to provide wireless service for the player’s 3G model, Hiroshi Kawano, president of Sony Computer Entertainment Japan, said at a press conference in Tokyo today.
The Vita faces intensified competition after Nintendo cut the price of its 3DS 3-D portable player by as much as 40 percent last month and as more consumers use Apple Inc.’s iPhone and Facebook Inc.’s online services to play games. Boosting profit from games may help Sony offset an eighth straight year of losses at its main television business.
Starting Oct. 15, Sony will take pre-orders for the PS Vita in Japan, where it will sell for 24,980 yen ($325) in the Wi-Fi version and 29,980 yen for the 3G model.
Sony rose 0.3 percent to 1,501 yen at the 3 p.m. close of Tokyo trading, compared with a 1.1 percent decline in Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 Stock Average.
The prepaid data plan will cost 980 yen for 20 hours and 4,980 yen for 103 hours, DoCoMo said. The Vita will have 26 software titles available when it goes on sale, Sony said.
The Vita is part of Sony’s networked strategy to link its TVs, Blu-ray players, game consoles and digital cameras via the Internet to movies, music and video games. Japan’s biggest exporter of consumer electronics is also increasing online services, such as PlayStation Suite, which allows users to download games on devices that run on Google Inc.’s Android.
U.S. and European consumers will be able to buy the Vita after Christmas, Hirai said Aug. 4. The model features an organic light-emitting diode display and a rear touchpad.
The maker of Cyber-shot cameras and Walkman music players is forecasting a profit of 60 billion yen this fiscal year after three consecutive years of losses. Sony cut its full-year profit forecast 25 percent in July, citing sluggish demand for TVs.
--With assistance from Takashi Amano in Tokyo. Editors: Dave McCombs, Terje Langeland
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