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It’s a cell phone! It’s a video game machine! And it’s not selling!

Last year, Nokia released the N-Gage handheld gaming system, a phone/game hybrid shaped like a bad taco and about as difficult to digest. With its awkward shape, it didn’t really fly as a phone. And, despite some solid titles, it didn’t take off as a mobile gaming platform either.

Yesterday, however, Nokia announced that it was raising its game with the N-Gage QD – an improved version due in Europe, Asia, and Africa in May, and available in America in June. The QD improves on some obvious flaws of its predecessor: it’s 20% smaller, and it’s designed with a speaker and microphone on the front, so you don’t have to palm the big beast to your ear.

But these tweaks may not be enough to compete with the incredible success of the Nintendo Game Boy Advance or even the upcoming PSP handheld from Sony. At least Sony and Nintendo each has an established brand as a foundation; Nokia, despite the potential, is still essentially coming from left field.

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