Nintendo: 35 million Wiis in US by 2012

NOA SVP George Harrison tells Bloomberg that his company's installed base will hugely expand during the next five years.

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With more than 5.4 million units sold in the US, the Xbox 360 is currently the frontrunner in the next-gen console race. However, the Wii is catching up fast. Though it's only been on the market since November, the motion-sensing, $249 console has sold some 2.5 million units as of the end of April, according to the NPD Group. By contrast, the higher-priced PlayStation 3 has sold some 1.3 million units in the US.

The Wii's impressive start has made Nintendo confident--cocky, even--about the console's long-term viability. Today in an interview with the Bloomberg news service, Nintendo of America senior vice president of marketing George Harrison predicted that there would be an installed base of 35 million Wiis in the US by 2012. For comparison purposes, the PlayStation 2 has sold 38.5 million units in the US since its release in October 2000. "Demand is much greater than we anticipated,'' he told Bloomberg. "A year ago no one thought we would be in this position.''

Harrison also brushed off the main criticism of the Wii--namely, that its processing and graphics power are low when compared to its rivals. "We're starting to see in the performance of the PS3 and Xbox 360 that that's not necessarily motivating the market the way it used to,'' he said, also shooting down speculation that a technically upgraded Wii would be launched any time soon. "We're going to start work on future technology only when we believe it's necessary," he said.

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