Right now, somewhere in Kyoto, Japan, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata is smiling. Four years after skeptics questioned the Wii's viability, the console is soaring above even the wildest expectations.
This morning, the company that spent the last hardware generation bringing up the rear with the GameCube reported that its current console had sold 44.96 million units worldwide as of December 31--a 10 million unit increase from just two months prior. Of those 10 million, more than 4 million were sold in the US, with the NPD Group reporting 2.04 million in November and 2.15 million in December.
The Wii's older but smaller sibling is also faring well. The DS--itself the subject of widespread derision when it went on sale in November 2004--sold 96.22 million units as of the end of last year, pulling further ahead of its predecessor, the Game Boy Advance. The monumental figure comprises all models of the handheld, including 1.66 million units of the DSi, the camera-enabled third hardware revision currently available in Japan.
Though Nintendo makes a profit on hardware, its first-party publishing operation is also reaping riches from software sales. During the last nine months of 2008, Mario Kart Wii and Wii Fit both sold more than 10 million units worldwide, with 9.4 million copies of Wii Play also passing over store counters. The platform's software total now stands at 312 million as of December 31.
However, the Wii's huge software tally was still behind that of the DS. Boosted by the popularity of Kirby Super Star Ultra and the Japan-only release of Pokemon Platinum, some 163.78 million DS games were sold last year, pushing its software sales to the 533 million-unit mark as the New Year's Eve champagne corks popped.
Naturally, record sales mean record profits for Nintendo. In the nine months preceding December 31, the company racked up net sales of ¥1.536 trillion ($17.12 billion), a 17 percent year-on-year increase. Operating profits for the period were ¥501 billion ($5.58 billion)--a 27 percent increase--with net profits of ¥212.5 billion ($2.36 billion).
Unfortunately, the rising strength of the yen means that Nintendo's success abroad doesn't translate as well at home. As a result, Nintendo is revising its annual earnings estimates down 9 percent to a still-record ¥1.82 trillion ($20.2 billion). Forecasts for operating profit were cut 36 percent to 530 billion ($5.90 billion), with net profit trimmed back 33 percent to 230 billion ($2.56 billion).