In a move that could presage a major battle between cell phone makers and game platform companies, Nokia today announced a new cell phone device category called a "game deck", which looks eerily like a Game Boy Advance.
The first device debuting in that device category is the Nokia N-Gage, which contains a color screen, game input controls, and a sideways layout that mimics the GBA form. It will use Bluetooth to enable multiplayer gaming over close distances, and the cellular network for wide area gaming. Nokia said that N-Gage games will be stored and distributed on memory cards at retailers, and published by Nokia.
The phone, which is scheduled to debut in February 2003, will be based upon the GSM mobile system -- the prevalent system in Europe, Africa and Asia. There was no indication whether the phone would use a different system in the United States.
For cellular operators, the phone could generate revenue via data use, since many games will be designed for multiple players over the cellular network. The N-Gage will run on the Nokia Series 60 platform and the Symbian OS.
Nokia said that Sega has already committed to developing games for the device.