January 8th, 2007, 23:23 Posted By: wraggster
Tried to find a Nintendo DS recently? One minute they're sitting happily on the shelves of every megalomart in the country, and the next they're nowhere to be found. In some areas they're even scarcer than Nintendo's big holiday seller, the Wii.
In fact, retail tracker site iTrackr, which records availability of 20 or so high-demand products, currently rates the DS between 4 percent and 14 percent availability, depending on the color -- comparable to the Wii at 7 percent. The big online retailers sell out within minutes, and some haven't had stock at all for over a week. Hardly what you'd expect for a device that's been on the market for over two years, is it?
Contrast that with the just-released PlayStation 3, which -- contrary to all our expectations -- is starting the New Year with far higher availability than in previous months. Online, consoles are readily available with and sometimes without bundles, and they're turning up in plentiful supply at the usual chain stores. In other words, it looks like the PS3 drought might be already over.
But in spite of the higher profile consoles, the DS has been outselling absolutely everything else for months. Back in November -- the most recent month for which US sales figures are available -- almost a million DSs made their way home with eager purchasers, easily making it the biggest selling console that month. It does well back home in Japan, too: it shifted nearly half a million DSs in the week of December 18-24, more than three times the sales of its closest rival, Sony's PSP.
Nintendo DS Lite...
We asked Nintendo to clarify the reasons behind the current DS shortage, but received no response by press time. It's possible there's some problem with the DS's distribution in the US. Maybe Nintendo's efforts are focused so tightly on maintaining Wii availability that its handheld cousin is taking a back seat. Perhaps DS units are being diverted to meet demand in other territories. But then, it's as likely that the svelte DS Lite is just that damn popular.
Which is not that hard to believe, when you take a look at the portable's lineup. Phoenix Wright, Warioware, Elite Beat Agents, Mario Kart, Animal Crossing, and New Super Mario Bros. all rate as some of our favorite games on any console, portable or not. And with 2007 holding the prospect of Pokemons Diamond and Pearl coming in April, Sim City DS, more Zelda, and even Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings, the DS demand is not going anywhere.
12/5/07 4.30PM UPDATE: Nintendo sent us an official statement in response to our queries about the sudden DS shortage: "Nintendo DS Lite is the best-selling video game system in the world right now. It has an amazing library of great games for people of all ages, which only adds to its popularity. Nintendo DS Lite proved to be a huge hit for holiday shoppers, which undoubtedly resulted in some spot shortages in various regions. As with all our products, we're working to keep the supply chain filled to meet consumer demand, and the DS Lite should be more readily available over the next couple of weeks. We expect the popularity of DS Lite to continue well into 2007 and beyond."
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