• Bloomberg


Panasonic Corp. is developing a hand-held video game player, returning to the market after more than a decade to challenge Sony Corp. and Nintendo Co., two company officials said.

The Osaka-based company is developing a hand-held player code-named Jungle, the two officials said Wednesday, asking not to be named because the company hasn’t made the information public. They declined to provide details, such as when the device will be unveiled and the price.

The electronics maker, which together with Sega Sammy Holdings Inc. and Atari SA ceded the console market to Sony and Nintendo, is looking to return to the game industry, which is estimated to reach $20 billion in sales in the U.S. this year. Besides its traditional rivals, Panasonic also faces competition from games played using smart phones and tablet computers, including Apple Inc.’s iPhone and iPad.

“A full-scale effort to come back to the games business would be highly risky,” said Jay Defibaugh, a games analyst at MF Global FXA Securities Ltd. in Tokyo.

Panasonic’s clamshell device will feature a touch pad and keyboard, TechCrunch reported Monday. The player will specialize in online gaming, the blog reported.

“Jungle is an ongoing project that Panasonic is pursuing,” Kyoko Ishii, a Panasonic spokeswoman, said Wednesday, without elaborating. Ishii declined to confirm or deny that the website cited by TechCrunch is the official home page for the product.

Panasonic entered the video game market in October 1993 with the 3DO console, a month before Atari Corp.’s Jaguar player. The last 3DO model went on sale in autumn 1994, after which the business was discontinued, Naoto Kishihara, a Panasonic spokesman, said Wednesday.

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