is planning an ambitious launch for its Wii console later this year, as the video game company attempts to win back market share from
The big difference is that compared with the new consoles from its rivals, Nintendo's Wii will carry a wee little price.
Nintendo didn't give a specific launch date or price for the Wii. But the company announced Thursday that between the fourth quarter of this year and the end of its fiscal year on March 31 next year, it plans to ship 6 million of the game systems to retailers.
That matches Sony's plans for its upcoming PlayStation 3, and it would be about double the number of Xbox 360s that Microsoft was able to ship between its launch last November and the end of this past March.
Meanwhile, Nintendo said it would sell the new game machine for no more than $250 in the U.S. and no more than 25,000 yen in Japan when the Wii hits store shelves in the fourth quarter. In contrast, Microsoft is charging about $300 and $400 for its two Xbox 360 models, and Sony plans to charge about $500 and $600 for its two PlayStation 3 models.
Once the dominant maker of video game consoles, Nintendo has steadily lost share over the last two industry cycles. While the company has struggled with home video game systems, it has maintained its lead in the handheld space, with the recently launched DS building on the dominance of its Game Boy series of systems.
With the Wii, the company is hoping to build on the success of the DS. As it has with the DS, Nintendo
hopes to set the Wii apart by focusing on offering fun games and innovative game play rather than pure processing capacity and graphical sophistication. The Wii system will come with a motion-detecting controller that will allow users to simulate everything from swinging a tennis racket to driving a car.
Nintendo's Wii announcement came as the company reported its fiscal year earnings. The company earned 98.4 billion yen ($877 million), or 762.3 yen per share, in the year ended March 31 on sales of 509.2 billion yen. In the prior year, the company earned 87.4 billion yen, or 663 yen per share, on sales of 515.3 billion yen.
The company expects sales to grow but earnings to fall in the coming year. In the coming year, Nintendo expects to earn 65 billion yen on sales of about 600 billion yen.
Nintendo has sold 16.7 million units of the DS since it launched the handheld device in late 2004 and expects to sell another 16 million this year. In contrast, Sony expects to ship about 14 million units of its rival Playstation Portable this fiscal year.
The video game industry has been going through a rough transition to the new generation of game systems. As a result, software makers such as
have seen their sales and earnings fall in recent periods.