Reports in the Japanese business press have suggested that publisher Bandai Namco is about to announce the launch of a new mobile gaming device, which would be aimed at the children's market and launched with mobile network operator Willcom.
English language financial news site Nikkei Net Interactive reports that the new handheld device would be a communication handset aimed at kids, with games as a key part of the offering, and would be supported by a new range of mobile services.
The new service, Kids Mobile, would be co-launched by Bandai Namco and Willcom, a Japanese mobile operator which was spun out of major operator KDDI in mid-2004, and is now co-owned by Kyocera and the Carlyle Group.
Little detail has been revealed about the new joint venture, except that negotiations between the two firms are nearing completion and the device and service will launch later this year. The nature of any software Bandai Namco would provide remains unknown.
However, it's safe to surmise that the handset will use the PHS (Personal Handyphone System) network, which is Willcom's area of specialisation and which offers low-cost, high-speed phone connectivity in urban areas of Japan.
This would not be Bandai Namco's first foray into the handheld market; prior to the merger with Namco, Bandai had been responsible for the WonderSwan series of handheld consoles, which enjoyed a reasonable measure of success in the Japan, but ultimately could not compete with Nintendo's Game Boy range.