All hail the Wii, symbol of everything the enthusiast press repeatedly underestimated, dismissing it as fad or frivolity for years. And now Nintendo's reporting it's sold 30 million Wiis in the U.S., or nearly 71 million worldwide, since the little console that couldn't--until it could--went on sale back in November 2006.
That makes the Wii the fastest selling console ever, outpacing even Sony's towering PlayStation 2 by a 15 month span. PlayStation 2 unit sales have dwindled, but the fact that it's still sold new is remarkable, to say nothing of untracked used unit sales. Sony reports it's sold some 140 million PS2s worldwide as of September 2009.
The Wii is expected to surpass that--if it can shake off a recent sales malaise, anyway.
Wii sales have been off for months, declining sharply in year-on-year metrics--though it should be noted, still outselling the competition. Last month Microsoft finally inched ahead by a trifling 30,000 units after debuting a slimline 250GB Xbox 360 with integrated wireless and quieter, cooler internals.
Add Nintendo's meteoric DS handheld to the unit sales picture, and the company's still notably outselling the rest of the competition combined. Consider Nintendo's profitability through it all--making money off every console and handheld sold, unlike Microsoft and Sony--and it's hard to view the Wii as anything but a triumph.
To put those 30 million Wii consoles in context, the Xbox 360, which debuted a full year earlier, has sold some 10 million fewer units in the U.S., while Sony's PS3, which debuted in tandem, has sold less than half.
Is it too soon to question Nintendo's iron grip on the market, with Microsoft's Kinect and Sony's PlayStation Move on the horizon? Probably not, and it's anyone's guess what happens next (a 'Wii 2', or perhaps some sort of Wii hardware add-on?) but when the history's written--whether the Wii's casual angle is finally subsumed by Microsoft and Sony's copycatting, whether you still play your Wii or it's gathering dust on a shelf--we'll remember it as the console that boldly changed the beat, when everyone else was stepping to it.
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