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Nintendo: 4m Wiis to ship by year's end

Beat that, Sony

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Nintendo cocked a snook at Sony yesterday by announcing it will ship 4m Wii consoles around the world from the machine's US launch on 19 November to the end of the year.

That's in marked contrast to Sony's PS3 roll-out, which has much lower unit-shipment targets and has seen the next-generation console's European debut officially delayed by more than three months and Japan's initial allocation possibly reduced by 20 per cent to 80,000 units.

According to Electronic Arts estimates, Sony will ship 500,000-800,000 PS3 into the US market by the end of the year. Sony has said in the past that it hopes to ship 2m PS3s worldwide by the end of 2006.

Sony's approach clearly stresses the PS3's rarity value - get one and you'll be one of the elite. It's an approach born out of necessity. Component shortages are limiting its ability to get sufficient machines out of the door, and it makes the machine's high retail price more palatable to the target audience.

Nintendo, on the other hand, wants to get Wii into the hands of as many people as possible, the better not only to build a user base quickly but also to maximise the profitability of its low-priced console. Targeting older and more casual gamers means its customers are likely to spend less money on software than hard-core console gamers might, and that means there's less opportunity for Nintendo to subsidise the hardware through software sales.

Still, it doesn't want consumers to get the impression there will be plenty of Wiis available to buy, so was keen to stress the high level of demand it's anticipating. ®

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