Japan's Nintendo has pushed back the much-awaited launch of its videogame service for smartphones by a few months to March 2016.

The news disappointed gaming fans as well as investors who drove its shares down by more than 10%. 

Under a strategy announced by its previous chief executive, who died of cancer earlier this year, Nintendo had said it would introduce its first smartphone games by the end of 2015. 

Fans and investors had hoped it would include its best-selling videogame franchise Mario in the first lineup.

hief Executive Tatsumi Kimishima, a former banker who succeeded Satoru Iwata, said the delay would help Nintendo concentrate on selling its existing consoles and game software during the Christmas season. 

"The year-end is traditionally our peak season for sales," he told a news conference, when asked about the delay. "This way, we'd be able to introduce our new applications after the holiday season is over."

He avoided commenting on whether Mario would come to smartphones, instead introducing a new social networking service-style application called "Miitomo" which would be available in March. 

Kimishima must avoid cannibalising traditional console sales at the same time as pushing aggressively into the rapidly growing mobile gaming segment. 

Earlier this week, Nintendo reported a weaker-than-expected operating profit for the July-September quarter on tepid sales of game software. 

Former CEO Iwata, credited with broadening the appeal of videogames, died of cancer in July just months after deciding to enter mobile gaming despite years of resisting investor calls for such a move.