Nintendo Wii Sales On Track; New Role Unveiled

Nintendo is more than halfway to its goal of shipping 6 million Wii gaming consoles by March 31, the end of its current fiscal year, the company said when announcing its earnings for April-December 2006. Robust sales of Wii helped push the company's profit up 43% in the last nine months of 2006.

Nintendo said it had shipped 4 million Wii consoles by the end of 2006 and sold 3.19 million worldwide--1.25 million in North America and 1.14 million in Japan.

In an additional development to watch, Nintendo also announced yesterday that it will make news from AP available through the Wii console.

Rival Sony also estimates it will ship 6 million PlayStation 3 machines by March 31, although it has suffered considerable setbacks in reaching that goal. The company said it had shipped 2 million PlayStation 3 machines worldwide by mid-January, with its Japanese shipments delayed by two weeks, and the European launch of the PS3 delayed until later this year.

The success of the Wii has been attributed to Nintendo's long-standing formula of marketing easy-to-play games to a wider audience, rather than catering to a narrower audience of young, male gamers. The Wii has been bought by families and single males alike, both demographics responding positively to the console's usability and library of familiar games' title characters, like "The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess."

Nintendo's earnings growth was also boosted by strong sales of its DS portable player, which sold 18.9 million units worldwide in the first three quarters of 2006. The company's overall sales rose 73% to 713 billion yen ($5.9 billion) during the April-December period, from 412 billion yen in the year-ago period.

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