(By Balachander) Nintendo's latest video game console, Wii U, is expected to outperform the sales its predecessor when it makes its global debut in the U.S. on November 18, according to research firm IHS Inc. (NYSE: IHS).
IHS expects consumers to buy 3.5 million Wii U consoles by the end of December 2012, compared with 3.1 million Wii consoles that were snapped up over a similar sales period at the end of 2006.
"Pent-up demand from Nintendo evangelists, many of which were introduced to the console market through the success of the Wii, is predicted to drive this explosive start," IHS said.
That said, IHS expects supply shortages over the holiday shopping season.
"As a result of the tight inventory control Nintendo employs to manage its supply chain and strong consumer demand in these opening weeks of launch, we believe it's highly likely that retailers will experience some Wii U shortages in the run-up to Christmas," said Piers Harding-Rolls, senior principal analyst, head of games at IHS. "Stock will be replenished in ongoing fashion, but some unlucky shoppers may well miss out."
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IHS expects Wii U sales over the first four years of its life to reach about 70 percent of the Wii's sales volume in the corresponding time frame.
"This time around, Wii U's pure innovation, coupled with a limited volume of high-quality Nintendo software, will not be enough to drive the ongoing sales momentum we witnessed with the Wii console, especially at a higher price point," said Harding-Rolls.
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The fragmented landscape for games consumption and the proliferation of always-on, connected devices, means that product innovation alone is not enough to stay relevant to today's mainstream consumer, added Harding-Rolls.