Iwata said the revamped DS is meant to be the first camera for children, a means of network-building for older people or a party toy, part of the company's ongoing quest to broaden gaming's popularity.
One in six Japanese already owns a DS, according to Kyoto-based Nintendo, which also makes Pokemon and Super Mario games. But the goal is to make the DS a must-have for every Japanese, Iwata said.
The new DSi is thinner than the current DS model, and will have a bigger screen, he said. The machine also comes with an audio player, to play sound stored in a memory card.
People will be able to change the speed of the sound, which Iwata demonstrated as being useful in listening to a foreign language lesson, for example.
Nintendo also demonstrated new game software for its hit Wii home console, including "Wii Music."
Players jiggle their remote controller to feel as though they are playing any of 60 musical instruments, including a drum set, sitar, saxophone and piano, although there are only 50 preprogrammed melodies. Users will be able to make those tunes play electronically from their Wii machines at their own speed and whim, and add personal touches, such as choosing accompanying instrumentation and genres such as jazz, reggae and rock.
Nintendo has sold 77.5 million Nintendo DS handheld devices worldwide, nearly 23 million in Japan, far outselling Sony Corp.'s rival offering, the PlayStation Portable, at 41 million globally — 10 million in Japan.
Howeverm the PSP has been challenging the DS lately — at least in Japan. For five months straight starting in March, PSP sales outpaced the DS in Japan, according to Tokyo-based Enterbrain, which publishes game magazines and tracks video game sales.
Iwata acknowledged that the pace of DS sales have been dwindling recently, and Nintendo was determined to reverse that with new offerings like the Nintendo DSi.