Sales of Nintendo's flagship Wii video console skidded this past fall. There were concerns among the company's shareholders that the product was losing its novelty and that heavy discounts on rival machines, particularly the Microsoft (MSFT
) Xbox 360 and Sony (SNE
) PS3, were taking Wii market share. Several popular games for Nintendo rivals Xbox and Playstation were launched in the last quarter, helping to drive their sales up.%%DynaPub-Enhancement class="enhancement contentType-HTML Content fragmentId-1 payloadId-61603 alignment-right size-small"%% But the Wii roared back in December, posting record sales. Nintendo told the FT
that sales of the console hit 3 million last month in the U.S. compared with 2.14 million in the same month in 2008. Nintendo President Satoru Iwata said, "I think it's now safe to say the Wii has recovered from slowdown."
Nintendo has cut the price of the Wii by $50 to match the discounts on Microsoft and Sony consoles, and the release of a new version of Super Mario Brother
s, a popular game that runs on the Wii, certainly helped sales. But neither fully explains the Wii's December success.
It turns out that the Wii is still the game casual game players prefer, while the Xbox and PS3 are considered consoles for "experts" because they're more complicated to operate. The Wii is incredibly easy to use, even for people who aren't experienced in video-game playing, which probably helped push up its holiday sales. The Wii's appeal spreads across a broad age group including children and adults -- something Microsoft and Sony can't, in most cases, claim. How many 50-year-olds spend hours on their Xbox?