Nintendo Wii tops January console sales

Nintendo Co.’s Wii was the top video-game console in the U.S. in January, outselling Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox 360 and each of Sony Corp.’s current PlayStation consoles, according to newly released market research.

Sales of the Nintendo console came in at 436,000 units, followed by Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox 360 at 294,000 units, and Sony Corp.’s PlayStation 3 at 244,000 units, according to preliminary NPD Group data cited by Microsoft.

Sony’s seven-year-old PlayStation 2 remained a formidable competitor, selling slightly less than 300,000 units in the U.S., according to the data.

The Wii, released in November, benefits in part from a lower price than its rivals. But the console — which uses a unique, motion-sensitive controller — has also been able to attract an audience beyond hard-core video gamers, said Perrin Kaplan, vice president of marketing with Redmond-based Nintendo of America.

“I do think that we’re selling to additional and different customers,” compared with the Microsoft and Sony consoles, Kaplan said. “We’ve had an incredibly healthy start and we think there’s going to be a pretty long tail on this product.”

Microsoft considered the Xbox 360 results a “fantastic January,” said spokeswoman Molly O’Donnell. In addition to topping the PlayStation 3 in sales, the Xbox 360 saw strong game sales, including “Lost Planet” for Xbox 360, from Capcom Co., the top-selling game for the month, according to NPD.

However, the January results won’t reflect a long-term trend, predicted Michael Pachter, analyst with Wedbush Morgan Securities. He said he expects the PlayStation 3, with its embedded Blu-ray Disc player, to win the long-term race for market share, as the prices for all three consoles decline.

Nintendo’s Wii currently sells for $250, compared with $300 and $400 for the two versions of the Xbox 360, and $500 and $600 for the PlayStation 3.

Both the PlayStation 3 and Wii experienced shortages following their November launches in the United States.

Microsoft’s Xbox 360 was launched in November 2005, and the company benefited from the ability to supply more of its consoles over the recent holidays. However, Microsoft recently reduced its short-term sales projections for the Xbox 360, saying it wanted to focus on making the money-losing business profitable.

Microsoft, which sold a cumulative total of 10.4 million Xbox 360s through the end of 2006, had previously been expecting to reach 13 million to 15 million by June 30, the end of the 2007 fiscal year. Now, it’s projecting 12 million.

Nintendo’s Kaplan said the company would have been able to sell more Wiis in January had it been able to manufacture enough. Pachter said he was surprised Nintendo wasn’t able to supply more than it did. The Wii has continued to experience shortages, but Nintendo says shipments are ongoing and continuous.

Original Article

Leave a Reply