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Thu, May 24, 2007 - Page 10 News List

Nintendo targets selling 35 million Wii consoles

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Nintendo Co, the world's largest maker of handheld game players, said it expects to sell as many as 35 million Wii consoles in the US to approach the record 38.2 million PlayStation 2s sold by Sony Corp.

The company will reach its goal by 2011 or 2012, George Harrison, marketing chief at Nintendo of America Inc, a unit of Kyoto-based Nintendo, said in an interview from Seattle yesterday.

Nintendo is increasing Wii production at factories in China to meet demand, Harrison said.

Tokyo-based Sony said last week it will introduce 34 new games in the next year to spur sales of its latest PlayStation 3 console, which the Wii has outsold by about two to one.

Nintendo's stock rose 3.2 percent to ¥42,100 (US$346) at the 3pm close on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, while Sony shares declined 0.7 percent to ¥7,100. The benchmark Nikkei 225 Stock Average climbed 0.1 percent.

Sony earlier this week said it will start selling PS3 in South Korea on June 16 at 518,000 won (US$556) each. The version will be equipped with a 80-gigabyte hard disk drive.

Nintendo sold 2.5 million Wii players in the US since the console was introduced in November, making it the top seller among the newest generation of machines.

"Demand is much greater than we anticipated," Harrison said. "A year ago no one thought we would be in this position."

US consumers have purchased 1.3 million PlayStation 3s since it was introduced two days ahead of the Wii. Microsoft Corp sold 5.4 million Xbox 360s, released in 2005, according to market researcher NPD Group Inc, based in Port Washington, New York.

The older PlayStation 2 remains popular and outsold both the PS3 and Xbox 360 in last month. Consumers bought 194,000 PS2s during the month, according to NPD. That compares with 174,000 Xbox 360s and 82,000 PS3s. The Wii was No. 1 at 360,000 units.

Demand for the PS2, introduced in 2000, has been bolstered by price cuts and the popularity of games such as Activision Inc's Guitar Hero. The console sells for US$149.

Pricing also helped sell the Wii. At US$249, it costs less than half the price of a PlayStation 3 and is about US$50 less than the cheapest Xbox 360. Nintendo has no plans to sell the Wii for less, Harrison said.

Nintendo will continue to focus on titles that attract people who typically don't play video games. That means there is little reason for the company to upgrade the console with more powerful chips or better graphics, Harrison said.

"We're starting to see in the performance of the PS3 and Xbox 360 that [performance] not necessarily motivating the market the way it used to," he said.

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