Another season of artificial shortages comes to an end.
For the second year in a row, Nintendo has managed to create completely artificial shortages of their Wii console to increase demand. There were questions in 2006, within the first few months of the Wii release, about whether this was a legitimate production issue, but more than a year later, it is fairly obvious that Nintendo is manufacturing scarcity alongside the hardware.
As far as the actual process of building the consoles is concerned, it is not as if they should be experiencing any delays due to, say, protecting the environment. Recently, Nintendo got the very first zero rating given to any company by Greenpeace in their Guide to Greener Electronics. That is quite an accomplishment; as the actual report on Nintendo [PDF] states, “The company scores zero on all criteria, allowing infinite room for future improvement.“
Nevertheless, whether by stumbling into the problem last year and then merely replicating it in 2007 or by marketing design from the outset, this “Cabbage Patch Console” approach appears to be working. Dozens of adults lined up at our local Best Buy at 8:00am last Sunday morning, in winter advisory conditions including wind gusts up to 50 MPH, to get tickets to allow them to purchase one of the 120 units available. These ticketholders then waited in line again, some for hours, waiting for the opportunity to actually make the purchase. All of this just yards from where the technically superior XBox 360 and Playstation 3 consoles sat in piles as if stuck on the Island of Misfit Toys.
Fortunately, Santa Claus managed to bring a Nintendo Wii for our family this Christmas season without standing in any such ridiculous lines, but his method remains a closely kept secret. For my part, I find that the Wii controllers are well designed for certain types of games (Wii Sports Bowling in particular), but for other games they seem an awkward fit (think shoehorn). The fact that most games require players to stand, rather than sit down, to play has both positive and negative aspects.
On my first attempt, my Wii Fitness Age matched my actual chronological age exactly; I will have to work on that.