DSi hits 435,000 in US as Nintendo stock slides

Camera-equipped handheld nearly doubles DS Lite's debut, but shares down nearly 7 percent after March NPD sales shortfall.

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The third time's the charm for Nintendo. The company has announced that its newly released DSi handheld--the follow-up to the original DS and the DS Lite--has nearly doubled its predecessor's debut sales. Citing internal tracking numbers, Nintendo said the DSi sold 435,000 units in the US in its first week of release, compared to the DS Lite's first-week tally of just 226,300 systems sold.

Smile for the camera(s)!
Smile for the camera(s)!

The news is not terribly surprising, given that Nintendo president Satoru Iwata already announced that the company had sold 300,000 DSi systems in the US during its first two days on sale. When the DS Lite debuted in 2006, Nintendo said it sold 136,500 units in the system's first two days on sale in the US, putting it roughly on pace to match the launch of the original DS in 2004.

While those early DS Lite sales figures may be promising, they weren't enough to address investor concerns over Nintendo's performance in the industry tracking NPD Group's March US retail sales figures. While the Wii and DS continued to be the top-selling systems, both saw sales slipping significantly month over month and year over year. Nintendo shares closed down 6.6 percent to ¥26,180 ($263.47) on the Osaka Stock Exchange today, with shares trading hands at nearly three times the normal rate.

Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime told Bloomberg the slip in March sales was due in part to the absence of a blockbuster hit like the prior year's Super Smash Bros. Brawl, which sold 2.7 million copies in the US in its debut month. While not nearly as huge, Nintendo did score a major US hit last month with Pokemon Platinum, which was the second-best-selling title of the month with 805,000 copies sold.

"Our launch schedules are more spread out so we're going to have these tough comparisons month-to-month," Fils-Aime told the news service. "But if you look at the overall trend of our business, it continues to be very healthy."

For perhaps the first time this generation, Nintendo has had to endure a smattering of negative news in relation to its gaming business. Last month, the Wii finished behind Sony's PlayStation 3 on Japanese hardware sales charts. That caused Iwata to describe the Wii's position in its home market as "unhealthy" and not where Nintendo would like it to be.

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