Nintendo still consumer favourite

Despite all the recent high-profile coverage concerning Microsoft’s upcoming 120GB HDD Xbox 360 Elite, Sony’s abrupt abandonment of the 20GB PlayStation 3 outside of Japan, and the ongoing rumours surrounding a possible 80GB PS3 to help combat the emerging Elite… despite all that, guess what? That’s right, Nintendo’s little Wii, which, incidentally doesn’t have a hard drive, is still outperforming the muscle-heavy competition.

In a sector of the tech entertainment market that racked up sales of $1.1 billion USD in March of this year, the appeal of videogame hardware, software, and related accessories and peripherals continues to grow at an astounding rate following its recent generational transition. And, according to figures released by industry researchers NPD yesterday, Japanese gaming giant Nintendo continues to lead the consumer charge.

Throughout the month of March, Nintendo maintained its performance lead over its closest rivals by selling a further 259,000 units of the Nintendo Wii, which comes complete with revolutionary motion-sensitive controllers, all of Nintendo’s priceless know-how, far-reaching cross-demographic appeal, and an amazingly low price tag of just $250 USD. 

By comparison, Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox 360, which was released to retail at the tail end of 2005, sold a solid 199,000 units during March, with Sony’s Blu-ray-equipped PlayStation 3 bringing up the rear with 130,000 units for the month.

Microsoft’s Xbox 360 comes in two editions: the Core unit, which retails for $299 USD and offers a wired controller while lacking a hard drive out-of-the-box; and a Premium unit, which retails for $399 USD, delivers a wireless controller and has a 20GB HD as standard. The Sony PlayStation 3 (still) comes in two versions also: a 20GB model that retails for around $499 USD (for those willing to search it out) and a larger 60GB model that sells for $599 USD. Both PS3 models come equipped with Blu-ray and a single wireless SIXAXIS motion-controller as standard.

Beyond the attraction of the three aforementioned next-gen consoles, Sony’s greying stalwart, the now $130 USD PlayStation 2, continues to leave its direct successor(s) in the shade, posting impressive monthly sales figures of 280,000 units during March. The PS2 has now sold some 38 million units in the U.S. region alone since it launched in October of 2000, while the console has sold approximately 115 million units globally, as of December 31, 2006.

Amazingly, the Nintendo DS handheld, which has been available at retail for over two years, out shone every other hardware offering on today’s market with a staggering 508,000 units sales during March, a figure that almost triples the Sony PlayStation Portable’s steady 180,000 units.

In terms of applicable totals across the hardware genres last month, home console sales almost doubled to $257 million USD, portable console sales increased by roughly 30 percent to hit $114 million USD, and overall software sales grew 15 percent to $574 million USD.

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