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Nintendo plans to boost Wii production

Nintendo’s president acknowledged that the shortage of the hit Wii game machine was “abnormal,” and promised production was being boosted to increase deliveries by next month.
Nintendo To Replace Over 3 Million Wii Straps
A Best Buy customer walks by a display for the new Nintendo Wii December 15, 2006 in San Francsico.Justin Sullivan / Getty Images file
/ Source: The Associated Press

Nintendo’s president acknowledged Friday that the shortage of the hit Wii game machine was “abnormal,” and promised production was being boosted to increase deliveries by next month.

We must do our best to fix this abnormal lack of stock,” Nintendo President Satoru Iwata told reporters. “We have not been able to properly foresee demand.”

The comments came a day after the Japanese manufacturer of the Wii — which comes with a wand that can be used as a sword, tennis racket or fishing rod depending on the game — reported that sales nearly doubled for the fiscal year, lifted by robust sales of the Wii and the DS portable, a handheld video game.

Kyoto-based Nintendo Co.’s net profit jumped 77 percent to 174.29 billion yen ($1.47 billion) in the year through March, up dramatically from 98.38 billion yen a year earlier. Sales soared 90 percent to 966.53 billion yen ($8.13 billion).

The Wii has pummeled its rivals in a head-to-head battle in next-generation video game consoles involving Sony Corp’s PlayStation 3, which has been plagued with production problems, and Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox 360.

Iwata refused to disclose the monthly production capacity for the Wii, and said it was too early to say by how much the production was being raised.

But he said efforts were under way to increase production, and more machines will get delivered to stores around the world.

“We will do our best to offer the machine for those who are waiting,” he said at a Tokyo hall.

Magic wand
The Wii’s motion-sensitive remote control wand has made it hit even with people unaccustomed to playing video games. It faced some minor problems early on with its wand, which flew out of the hands of some zealous players, snapping the strap and at times crashing into TVs. But that hasn’t dented profits, and the console is still flying off store shelves.

Nintendo, which also makes Pokemon and Super Mario games, is planning to sell 14 million Wii machines for the current fiscal year through March 2008, having sold 5.84 million Wii consoles worldwide in the five months since its release late last year.

Sony has sold just 1.84 million PlayStation 3 machines so far worldwide, while Microsoft has shipped more than 10 million Xbox 360 consoles worldwide.

The PlayStation 3 went on sale late last year in the U.S. and Japan, and in March in Europe. Xbox 360 beat rivals to market in 2005.

Nintendo also has a big hit in the DS, selling more than 40 million since its launch in late 2004. The machine comes with a touch panel, introducing new easy-to-play games such as raising a dog that players can pet on the screen. Nintendo expects sales of 22 million more DS machines this fiscal year.

Iwata said Nintendo is now producing 2.5 million DS machines a month to meet bursting demand, the highest production ever for a Nintendo game machine.