Nintendo DS a sales sensation

Company reports selling 500,000 units during product's first week on the market. Good luck finding one now. Images: Nintendo dual screen grows up

Nintendo's new handheld game machine is making a splash with holiday shoppers, who snapped up more than 500,000 DS machines in the product's first week on the market.

The Japanese game giant reported Tuesday that more than 90 percent of available Nintendo DS units were bought the week after they went on sale Nov. 21.

The buying frenzy is already creating shortages at some retailers, a situation becoming distressingly familiar for anyone with gamers on their shopping list.

As of Wednesday, Amazon.com had DS units available only from Amazon Marketplace partners, some of whom were charging a $100 premium over the $150 list price for the DS. CompUSA didn't even have the DS listed on its Web site, while specialty retailers GameStop and EBGames listed the DS as back-ordered, with EBGames promising delivery by Jan. 31.

"With Nintendo DS sales moving faster than anticipated, some locations have reported sellouts, and Nintendo predicts the initial North American supply will be depleted within days," Nintendo of America said in a statement. "As additional shipments are rushed to stores by this weekend to meet the demand, Nintendo expects to sell 1 million Nintendo DS units in North America alone by the end of 2004."

Nintendo expects to sell 5 million DS units worldwide by March 31, the end of its fiscal year, and had to open a third factory to crank out units fast enough to meet advance demand in Japan, where the device goes on sale Thursday.

Big opening numbers are likely to give Nintendo an even bigger lead over Sony, which is set to enter the handheld-game market later this month with the PlayStation Portable . Sony executives recently confirmed reports of PSP inventory issues, saying that only 200,000 units will be available when the machine goes on sale in Japan on Dec. 12.

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    David Becker
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