Nintendo Wii U Console

Nintendo recently unveiled the Wii U it’s latest console offering. The first to announce an 8th generation console, Nintendo hopes their first-to-market strategy will gain them a strategic advantage in the console war’s next round of battles.

Nintendo’s Wii U, the First 8th Generation Console

Nintendo is prepared to go-to-market with it’s Wii U consoles in 2012, but there won’t be a new Xbox or PlayStation for another 3-4 years according to most sources. This will give Nintendo, already a dominant force, will have a significant head start against its primary competitors, Sony and Microsoft.

Always the innovator, Nintendo’s latest console introduces a number of first’s for consoles and has been met with mixed responses. Some reviews are ecstatic about the consoles massively improved hardware, graphics processing and innovative controls, while others are less enthusiastic about the consoles price, game availability, and innovative controls.

But Nintendo’s no stranger to mixed reception…

Nintendo’s Domination in the Marketplace

While core gamers often dismiss the Wii, it’s wider appeal has led it to dominate the 7th generation console marketplace helping it beat out Sony’s PlayStation 3 and Microsoft’s Xbox 360 at home, in North America and worldwide.

Japanese sales figures

  1. Wii – 11,534,590 as of 1 April 2011[38]
  2. PlayStation 3 – 6,341,950 as of 1 April 2011[38]
  3. Xbox 360 – 1,448,665 as of 1 April 2011[38]

North American sales figures

  1. Wii – 30 million as of 10 August 2010[43]
  2. Xbox 360 – 18.6 million as of 31 December 2009[44]
  3. PlayStation 3 – nearly 12 million as of 14 April 2010[45]

Worldwide sales figures

  1. Wii – 87.57 million as of 30 June 2011[9]
  2. Xbox 360 – 55 million as of 4 June 2011[36]
  3. PlayStation 3 – 50 million as of 31 March 2011[37]

Is First-To-Market the Best Strategy?

PlayStation was first to market in the 5th generation console match up, releasing the PlayStation in 1994, 2 years prior to Nintendo’s N64 console release. PlayStation sales dwarfed Nintendo’s 3 to 1 (102m vs. 32m).

Sony hit the pavement early again with hit’s 6th generation contender, the PlayStation 2 released in 2000, beating competitors to market by a year, including newcomer Microsoft who introduced the Xbox, their first console. Microsoft stepped into the gap left by Sega who had bowed out of the console wars after two disappointing runs at the title (first Sega Saturn, then Dreamcast). Once again Sony’s sales swallowed the other consoles with-out breaking a sweat (150m Sony PS2 vs 24m Microsoft Xbox, 22m Nintendo Gamecube)

The 7th generation of consoles was kicked off by the new up-and-coming contender Microsoft releasing their Xbox 360 console in 2005. It was a full year before Nintendo or Sony released a contender. however, despite Microsoft’s full year head start, Nintendo’s behemoth marketing machine helped propel the later console ahead in the market. The Wii now holds a healthy margin on its fellow 7th generation consoles (87.5m Nintendo Wii vs. 55m Xbox 360, 50m Sony PlayStation 3)

While being first-to-market appears to have given PlayStation a significant advantage in the 5th & 6th generation releases, getting the Xbox 360 out early wasn’t enough to allow Microsoft to dominate. On the other hand it did help cement Xbox as a MAJOR rival, carving out a strong second place in a market dominated by entrenched, veteran console developers.

So what do you guys think?

Is Nintendo diluting their own 7th generation market by releasing the Wii U too early? Will this early leap to 8th generation help keep them the dominant console in the marketplace? What do Microsoft & Sony have to do to gain market share? Is Nintendo Wii U paving the way as ‘the next hottest thing’ in consoles?