Wii Helps Nintendo Year-End Profits Soar

The Associated Press
Thursday, January 25, 2007; 5:50 AM

TOKYO -- Booming year-end sales of the wand-wielding Wii game console sent profit at Nintendo soaring 43 percent for the nine months ended December, the Japanese manufacturer of Pokemon and Super Mario games said Thursday.

Nintendo Co., which also makes GameBoy Advance and Nintendo DS handheld machines, recorded group net profit of 131.9 billion yen ($1.1 billion) in the first nine months of the fiscal year, up dramatically from 92.2 billion yen the same period a year earlier.

The company did not break down quarterly numbers.

Sales soared 73 percent to 712.6 billion yen ($5.9 billion) during the April-December period from 412.3 billion yen the previous year, the Kyoto-based company said in a release.

Nintendo's Wii is embroiled in a head-to-head battle in next-generation home game consoles against sector leader Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 3, which has been plagued with production problems.

Wii, inspired by the English word "we," has benefited from its fun image built around the wandlike remote controller that players wave around like a tennis racket, fishing rod, drumstick or gun, depending on the game.

Nintendo said it sold 3.19 million Wii machines worldwide, 1.25 million in the Americas, and 1.14 million in Japan.

The company said it had met its target of 4 million units shipped by the end of 2006 as that number had been manufactured and were still getting distributed, according to spokesman Yasuhiro Minagawa.

He said Nintendo was well on its way to reach its target of global shipment for 6 million Wii machines by March 31, the end of the current fiscal year, and will have manufactured 7 million Wii machines in fiscal 2006.

Earlier this month, Sony said it shipped 2 million PlayStation 3 machines worldwide by mid-January, falling about two weeks behind its initial plan in shipments in Japan. The machine's launch in Europe has been delayed until later this year. Sony is also targeting shipping 6 million PS3 machines by March 31.

Selling machines in high volumes is crucial in the gaming business because hot-selling formats attract software companies to make more games, which in turn boost console sales and often bring in hefty profits for the hardware companies that also make software.

The Wii faced some minor problems early on with its wand, which flew out of the hands of some enthusiastic players, snapping the wrist strap and sometimes crashing into TVs.

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