Nintendo Unsure of Wii Availability for the Holidays

A senior Nintendo of America official says that demand for the Wii videogame console may once again outstrip supply during the runup to Christmas. However, the official says that U.S. supplies are up 50% over the same period last year.

Denise Kaigler, Nintendo of America's vice president of Corporate Affairs, made the comments to The Industry Standard in an email. "It's true that despite this amazing amount of product we're putting into the channel, some locations around the country are still experiencing sellouts," Kaigler said. "There's no way to know if we'll have enough Wii consoles for the holidays."

This is the third holiday season in a row that retailers have experienced shortages of the popular -- and profitable -- console. Best Buy says on its website that the console is sold out online. Amazon's Wii page acknowledges shortages, and includes a policy that threatens to cancel orders and close the accounts of customers who order more than three consoles. While the retailer currently is not selling consoles on its own, the small number of partner merchants who have new Wiis in stock are listing them on Amazon.com for US$350-$363, a markup of at least $100 over the in-store retail price.

However, Kaigler noted that production of the Wii had increased since last year. "Nintendo now manufactures Wii consoles at a rate of 2.4 million a month worldwide," she said. "During the October-to-December timeframe, we will have 50 percent more systems in the U.S. market than we did during the same period last year."

Nevertheless, Kaigler advised people interested in buying a Wii to do so if they happened to see it in stock at a local retailer. "It might not be on that shelf much longer," she said.

When asked about recent comments by Microsoft suggesting that the Xbox 360 and the Wii are not competitors, Kaigler said, "That's for the market to decide."

Sources cited, referenced, or consulted: Nintendo.com, walmart.com, bestbuy.com, amazon.com, Cnet.com, Rachel Lichterman (Golan/Harris), Denise Kaigler (Nintendo of America)

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