Nintendo has upped worldwide production of the Wii to 1.8 million systems per month, twice as much as at the console's launch. "We’ll keep production at that level for quite a while," said Fils-Aime
The first part of the statement is something we already knew. The second part is fascinating.
Nintendo is getting a black eye in the media for not having enough consoles available. This is a problem of immediacy. People want the consoles now. Now it's Christmas. Now I will buy.
There aren't any consoles right now, but based on the statement from Fils-Aime, there will be...oh boy will there be!
Let's think about that 1.8 million number a moment. It's huge. That essentially means 800,000+ Wiis will be brought to the US every month until they lower production. It takes time and money to take factories off line, so it seems unlikely that Nintendo would stop the number any early than March.
If that is the case, there will be a minimum 2.4 million Wiis delivered to US stores during the first Quarter of 2008. (Another 3 million would be split between Japan and Europe!) I only have numbers back to 2001, but can you guess what the highest US sell through of any console ever was for Jan-March?
1.3 million PS2s in 2002. So the Wii is expecting, essentially to nearly double the best sales ever. Stop and think about that for a minute. The PS2 is the all-time best-selling console and the Wii expects to nearly double the best Q1 sales the PS2 had...ever...
At some point, a Nintendo executive saw those numbers and freaked out, leading to the raincheck program with Gamestop. As well as the Wii is selling, these numbers, if they happen are beyond anything the industry could ever dream of.
Of course what got the Wii in this predicament was selling so many consoles all year that no substantial Christmas stock could be built up. It's a great predicament to be in, but it's got to make Nintendo nervous to have so many consoles coming through the pipeline. They keep trying to get it through everyone's head how many they are making, but the message isn't getting through because people don't have Wiis in front of them. However, in the very near future, the understanding of what 1.8 million Wiis per month means is going to become abudantly clear.
While there are no Wiis right now, and Christmas shoppers are going nuts in frustration, Nintendo has to be eyeing the future with a lot of careful consideration. They don't want a million extra units sitting on store shelves come April. If you run these figures forward just 3 months (imagine 6 months!?) Wii sales will have to be beyond the wildest dream of every video game company ever just to keep up with supply.
And the scary thing is (or the wonderful thing if you are making software for the thing) the Wii might just do it.