GBA SP Enjoys First Birthday

Nintendo's Game Boy Advance SP is celebrating its first birthday in style as the leader in a market which is about to become a gaming battleground. In its first year, the Game Boy Advance SP has sold more than 6.5 million units in North America, the highest one-year sales figures of any video game system in history, including home consoles. It also helped propel the Game Boy Advance line to the most successful year in the 14-year history of the Game Boy series, which has sold more than 160 million systems worldwide.

By moving from the base Game Boy Advance model to the SP, Nintendo took portable gaming from the realm of a common Volkswagen to a baby Benz, says Michael Pachter, director of research for Wedbush Morgan Securities in Los Angeles. It elevated the nature of portable gaming, and gave a tremendous boost to the video game industry overall.

With innovations like a fashionable flip-top, a pocket-perfect size, a front-lit screen and rechargeable battery, the Game Boy Advance SP did revolutionize the image of handheld gaming. Those changes however, are now being taken to the next level by the arrival of the next-generation of handhelds which also promise to greatly improve the gaming experience and hope to challenge Nintendo's dominance in the field. Companies like Sony (PSP), Nokia (N-Gage) and ATI and nVidia with their own handheld 3D platforms plan to grab a bit of the mobile gaming pie.

GBA SP has managed to broaden its target makret by appealing to young and old alike. In fact, more than 35 per cent of its owners are 18 or older, something which will create difficulties for any competitor.

Nintendo introduced the first Game Boy system in 1989, and expanded the line through the years to include Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance and Game Boy Advance SP. The Game Boy Advance SP, available at an MSRP of USD 99.99, comes in a variety of colors, including Platinum (silver), Onyx (black), Cobalt (blue), Flame (red) and a limited-edition two-tone model (Platinum base with Onyx top). More than 500 titles are available for Game Boy Advance and Game Boy Advance SP, and the Game Boy Advance line overall has sold more than 20 million systems in the United States.

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GBA SP Enjoys First Birthday

One thing that I have learned is that superior hardware does not always make a winner (Xbox anyone??) On the handheld front, the Neo Geo system and the Game Gear both were very far ahead of the game boy, which still dominated them, and eventually made them drop out of the race. The question is what will happen when the next generation of portable consoles come around. Those that are serious about what they are designed for, meaning that the NGage is excluded out of the picture.

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