In my thus far futile search for my niece & nephew’s Wii console to deliver by December 24, I found the Wii Tracker website. It’s a website that offers links to places that sell Wii consoles.
They link to a Mercury News interview (excerpted on a blog) in which Reggie Fils-Aime, the president of Nintendo of America, explains the sales frenzy:
Q: The Wii console has been a big hit to date, with you guys having a difficult time meeting demand. This is going to be a bad Christmas for folks still wanting to buy one, isn't it?Given this supply constraint, Wii Tracker makes Nintendo’s strategy quite clear: it’s quite easy to buy a Wii today, as long as you’re willing to pay $500-$600 for a “bundle” rather than $250 for just the base console. Increasingly, parents are paying twice what they were willing to pay in order to have the “must have” game in time for Christmas.
A: We have been sold out worldwide since we launched. . . . Every time we put more into the marketplace, we sell more, which says that we are not even close to understanding where the threshold is between supply and demand.
Q: What is it about your manufacturing system that doesn't allow you to catch up with demand?
A: The issue is not a lack of production. The issue is we went in with a curve that was aggressive, but the demand has been substantially more than that. And the ability to ramp up production and to sustain it is not a switch that you flick on. We're working very hard to make sure that consumers are satisfied this holiday, but I can't guarantee that we're going to meet demand. As a matter of fact, I can tell you on the record we won't.
If course, this is exactly the sort of price discrimination (versioning) that Hal Varian advocates in Information Rules: charge more money to those who are willing to pay more, less to those who are not, and keep the two groups separate. So those who want to buy a Whttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifii for junior's birthday in February will do fine, but those who want to be a hero on Christmas morning are hosed. That's me: in fact, my niece and nephew have birthdays in December, so I can't even try the wait-until-February ploy.
Update 12:45 p.m.: This morning’s WSJ says the Wii shortage is caused by 2007 sales exceeding Nintendo’s forecasts by 25%, by extremely conservative supply chain management, and by huge lags in ramping up production because it is 100% outsourced. Upon further investigation, I also found that the profiteering is not (directly) due to Nintendo, but its dealers.