Wii, DS sales records aren't the whole story

Nintendo says its Wii console and DS handheld reached important sales milestones across the United States. But is that the whole story?

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read

Nintendo may be touting its Wii and DS sales, but the overall situation isn't actually looking so great for the game company.

According to its internal estimates for sales through 2010, Nintendo has sold more than 47 million DS units in the U.S. since the device's launch in late 2004. Nintendo boasted that the "tally makes Nintendo DS the nation's best-selling video game system of all time."

The company also revealed that it sold more than 7 million Wii units in the U.S. last year, making it the third-consecutive year the company has reached that milestone. According to Nintendo, that is a "feat never before accomplished in the history of video games by a home console."

All told, Nintendo said, it has sold over 34 million Wii units in the U.S. from its launch in November 2006 through 2010.

But further inspection reveals that at least when it comes to the Wii, it might not be as rosy a picture as Nintendo paints.

Back in August, the company announced that it had sold over 30 million Wii units since the device's launch. Realizing that, we can safely assume that Nintendo sold about 1 million Wii units (on average) per month through the remainder of 2010 with 600,000 of those units being sold during "Black Friday week" between November 21 and 27.

Moreover, hitting the 7 million unit sales mark in 2010 isn't necessarily positive for Nintendo. In 2008, it sold over 10 million Wii units, and by the end of that year, it had sold a total of 17.6 million units in the U.S. over its lifetime. Considering it sold about 7 million units in 2010, we can safely assume that Wii sales figures in the U.S. were just under 10 million Wii units in 2009, as well.

In other words, the company actually saw a significant decline in sales last year.

Slumping hardware sales from Nintendo isn't new. Back in October, the company announced a $24.6 million loss during the six months that ended September 30. During that period, Nintendo reported, it shipped 6.69 million DS units worldwide, down from the 11.7 million units it shipped during the same period in 2009.

The company tallied 4.97 million Wii unit shipments during the six months that ended September 30, representing a decline from the 5.75 million Wii consoles it shipped during the same period the year prior.