Nintendo DS a sales sensation

Nintendo's new handheld game machine is making a splash with holiday shoppers, who snapped up more than 500,000 units in the product's first week on the market.

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Japanese game giant Nintendo reported Tuesday that more than 90 percent of available Nintendo DS units were snapped up in the week after their November 21 launch.

The buying frenzy is already creating shortages at some retailers, a situation becoming distressingly familiar this year for anyone with gamers on their shopping list. As of Wednesday, Amazon.com had DS units available only from Amazon Marketplace partners, some of whom were charging a $100 premium over the $150 list price for the handheld. CompUSA didn't even have the DS listed on its Web site, while specialty retailers GameStop and EBGames listed the DS as back-ordered, with EBGames promising delivery by January 31.

"With Nintendo DS sales moving faster than anticipated, some locations have reported sellouts, and Nintendo predicts the initial North American supply will be depleted within days," Nintendo of America said in a statement. "As additional shipments are rushed to stores by this weekend to meet the demand, Nintendo expects to sell 1 million Nintendo DS units in North America alone by the end of 2004."

Nintendo expects to sell 5 million DS units worldwide by March 31, the end of its fiscal year, and had to open a third factory to crank out units fast enough to meet advance demand in Japan, where the device goes on sale Thursday.

Big opening numbers are likely to give Nintendo an even bigger lead over Sony, which is set to enter the handheld gaming market later this month with the PlayStation Portable. Sony executives recently confirmed reports of PSP inventory issues, saying only 200,000 units will be available when the machine goes on sale in Japan on December 12.

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