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Nintendo to bring 2 million Wiis to U.S. by year's end

Want a Nintendo Wii? Looks like you probably won't have to break a bottle over someone's head to get one.

Nintendo will bring approximately 2 million Wii game consoles to the U.S. by the end of the year, a wave of machines that could help the company gain ground in the console wars.

All 2 million aren't in the U.S. right now. However, Nintendo plans to restock U.S. distributors and retailers on a weekly basis, according to the company. The console will next launch in Japan on December 2 and in Europe on December 8. Earlier this month, Nintendo said it would ship around 400,000 consoles into Japan this year.

In all, 4 million will ship this year.

Of the three console makers, Nintendo so far seems to have done the most thorough job in getting retailers and distributors stocked. The $250 Wii console, which went on sale over the weekend, was available in several retail outlets. Some early buyers are selling consoles on eBay, but generally current bidding is in the $300 to $400 range with games and extras.

By contrast, Sony will only bring a few hundred thousand PlayStation 3 consoles to the states by the end of the year, according to various estimates. eBay bidders are putting $700 and $900 bids on the $499 and $599 consoles. (Some buyers are listing minimum bids of $1,000 or more, but these auctions have attracted few punters.)

Parking lot scraps and muggings also marred the launch of the PlayStation 3. There have not been similar reports connected with the Wii.

Last year, Microsoft found itself short of Xbox 360 consoles. Rumors of new waves of supply would cause lines to form at certain retailers. Some Web sites reported that using specific code words with in-store sales reps could get them to bring out a console from the stock room.

Supply, though, improved after that and Microsoft says that, by December, a cumulative 10 million Xbox 360s will have shipped. Microsoft, though, is still having trouble gaining traction in Japan.

While availability can't guarantee success, it can help. Back in the late 1990s, Hewlett-Packard enjoyed a surge of consumer PC sales because it included recordable CD drives in PCs just as MP3s were taking off; Apple lost ground because it didn't.