Wii’s Old Supply Problems Are New Again

By  |  Wednesday, February 10, 2010 at 6:00 pm

It’s 2007 all over again, with Nintendo’s Wii in short supply at retail shops and online stores.

Shipments are coming in, but they’re selling out fast, Joystiq reports. Nintendo hasn’t gone into specifics on why it can’t meet demand for the Wii, but the company said “replenishing Wii inventories will be a challenge” in the short-term.

According to Sterne Agee analyst Arvind Bhatia, 47 percent of GameStops had the Wii in stock last month, IndustryGamers reported, so you might have to call around to get one. Supplies are a bit scarcer at other retailers; Bhatia said 28 percent of channels had the Wii in stock last month.

Why are Wii shortages happening again? One GameStop employee told Joystiq that it’s a regular occurrence after the holidays, and that supplies should pick up in mid-February, but that doesn’t jive with Nintendo’s remarks about short-term supply challenges.

Back in the early days of the Wii, a popular conspiracy theory held that Nintendo was intentionally holding back supply to stir up buzz. I never really believed that, and it certainly doesn’t seem likely now. However, a variation on that theory, from GameStop chief operating officer Dan DeMatteo, seems plausible: In March 2007, he said Nintendo was holding back supply because the company already met its yearly sales goals.

A similar motive could be at work here. Despite a 23 percent drop in profits last quarter, Nintendo does seem on track to meet its sales forecasts for the year ending March 31, so the company may not be in a rush to boost production.

Again, only Nintendo knows for sure what’s going on here. As a consumer, it seems silly that a company would make it harder to buy its product, but that’s business for you.

 
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