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TOKYO, July 17 (Reuters) - Sony Corp. (6758.T) will launch a slimmer version of its PlayStation Portable handheld game player in Japan on Sept. 20 for 19,800 yen ($162), the Japanese electronics maker said on Tuesday, in an effort to better compete with Nintendo Co. Ltd.'s 7974.OS hot-selling DS.
Sony's game unit chief Kazuo Hirai said last week at the E3 game industry exposition in the United States it would launch the lighter PSP model in September, but no specific launch timing or price for the Japanese market were available.
Both Sony and Nintendo released their handheld gear, the PSP and DS, respectively, late in 2004. But sales of the PSP, which can play movies, music and games, have recently been outshone by the DS.
Nintendo sold 23.6 million DS units in the year ended March 31, outpacing PSP shipments of 8.4 million.
Sony Computer Entertainment also said on Tuesday it would launch the latest version of its popular in-house racing game "Gran Turismo" in October.
"Gran Turismo 5" is one of the most anticipated titles for the PlayStation 3 game console, and its launch ahead of the critical year-end shopping season is expected help breathe life into slow PS3 sales.
Ahead of the announcements, shares in Sony closed down 0.9 percent at 6,350 yen, underperforming the Tokyo stock market's electrical machinery index .IELEC.T, which lost 0.25 percent.
((Reporting by Nobuhiro Kubo, writing by Kiyoshi Takenaka, editing by Michael Watson; Reuters Messaging: firstname.lastname@example.org; +81-3-3432-8837; email@example.com)) Keywords: SONY GAMES/
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