Friday, December 7, 2007

Wii will rip you!

When the whole Wii saga began, my daughter wrote (in an obvious homage to the 1977 hit song)

Wii will wii will rock you
Going on intuition, I showered early this morning and drove to my nearest Fry's superstore in search of the mythical console. It was not that wacky — Fry's runs its big ads on Fridays while Circuit City and Best Buy do it on Sundays. Since I can't stand in line this Sunday, this could be my only shot before Dec. 16.

Sure enough, I got to Fry's at 8:40 am and joined the first line I saw — which naturally was the line for the Wii. The store had opened at 8 am, and I was told that I was 3 shoppers too late — it sure looked like I should not have stopped to buy the newspaper. But somehow they miscounted, and $530.33 later I owned the “Wii Hardware Bundle” for my niece and nephew.

It turns out I was being unfair in blaming Nintendo for price discrimination (gouging customers). This was not a Nintendo-required “hard” bundle but a Fry's “soft” bundle, with $250 of Wii console and $240 of mandatory Wii accessories sold at list prices.

I estimate that $150 of the $240 is actually useful stuff, notably the Super Mario Galaxy game that my nephew is dying to get and also a spare controller. But the rest of the bundle is comprised of products that are either total drek, or extra accessories that they were unlikely to ever want (like the Nunchuk controller).

Thus it's not Nintendo trying to milk extra bucks out of its customers, but the dealer. This actually explains (and fits) the Costco bundles mentioned by Wii Tracker: to increase average selling points and avoid commoditization (and perhaps manufacturer wrath), Costco has tried to take hot products and throw in extra doodads to add “value” rather than sell the base product for a lower price. Standard Merchandising 101 sort of stuff.

My apologies to Nintendo, and of course my embarrassment at playing along with this whole sordid game.

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