Wii Fit, IPhone 3G Among Japan's Top Impulse Buys in 2008

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Nintendo's Wii Fit game and Apple's iPhone 3G are among the top 20 products Japanese consumers confessed to buying on impulse in 2008.

In a survey conducted by Japanese search engine Goo, the Wii Fit ranked third for the year behind the year's two sweet sensations: salted sweets and raw caramel. Wii Fit became a national phenomenon because it was seen as an easy and fun way to get fit.

Around 3 million units of the software and companion "balance board" hardware are expected to be sold by Nintendo in Japan this year, it said recently. Worldwide the company expects to sell 10 million units this year.

One other game, "Monster Hunter Portable 2nd G" for the PlayStation Portable, was among the top 20 in the ranking. The Capcom game is one of the most popular for handheld platforms in Japan and has sold more than 2.5 million copies since its launch in March. It was tied for 12th place with another local diet fad: a book that preached the values of keeping-in-shape by eating bananas for breakfast.

Following hot-on-the-heels and tied for 14th place was both a mobile PC and the iPhone 3G.

Japan was part of the simultaneous worldwide launch of the iPhone 3G on July 11 and the phone got considerable media coverage in Japan. It was the first time the iPhone was available here (the previous 2G version wasn't compatible with Japan's cellular networks) and some people began camping out several days before the phone went on sale to be assured of getting one. When sales began, parts of the launch were broadcast live on Japan's morning TV shows.

The popularity of the mobile PC this year can be put down to low prices. Not only are computers like Asus' Eee PC redefining what consumers expect to pay for a laptop but machines are being offered for as little as ¥100 (US$1) by cellular carriers in return for signing a 2-year flat-rate data contract.

The unscientific ranking polled visitors to the Goo portal between Oct. 21 and 24.

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