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You're No Apple, Nintendo

Let's say that you have a flagship product facing intensifying pricing competition from desperate rivals at the low end. You figure that shrinking the product in size and stripping away some of the features will justify a lower price point. You keep the same name, but you slap the word "Mini" at the end as a marketing differentiator.

Analysts wonder if the attempt to reach a wider and thriftier audience will backfire by cannibalizing sales of your larger full-featured product, but you stand by your call. You see major Mini potential.

This is exactly what Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) did with the iPad Mini earlier this month. It's exactly what Nintendo (NASDAQOTH: NTDOY  ) is doing now with the Wii Mini.

However, the comparisons pretty much end there.

  • The iPad is hot, and the original Wii has seen its popularity fade in recent years. Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) Xbox 360 has been the console of choice in recent quarters. In fact, a day after Nintendo announced that it had sold 400,000 Wii U and 300,000 Wii consoles last week -- seemingly a good start to its new Wii U platform -- Microsoft revealed that it had cleared 750,000 Xbox 360 systems.
  • The features stripped from the iPad to make the iPad Mini are reasonable. There's no Retina Display. It's propelled by a less powerful chip. It's smaller, naturally. It's a fair exchange to shave $170 off the price of a new iPad. The Wii Mini, on the other hand, cannot connect to the Internet. It's also not compatible with games for the older GameCube, and that's surprising since the market that it may be aimed for is less-affluent Nintendo fans still playing with the GameCube.
  • Finally, Apple was touting the iPad Mini from the beginning. The Wii Mini, on the other hand, is quietly rolling out with its $99 price point exclusively in Canada this holiday season. It remains to be seen if it will be introduced elsewhere next year.

There are so many things wrong the Wii Mini and its execution strategy.

For starters, the Wii Mini may not have Internet access, but most people do. They will quickly learn about the $99 device, and that may hold them back from buying a Wii or possibly even a Wii U this season.

There are also the limitations of the lack of connectivity. Without Wi-Fi, buyers are limited to physical games. That may sound great for Nintendo and Wii game publishers, but what about the cash-strapped families that were hoping to buy cheaper digital games directly through Nintendo? What about the lack of video streaming? It's bad enough that the Wii is the only console that doesn't play movies on optical discs. The Wii Mini is making sure that it's even less of a consideration as a cornerstone of a home entertainment center.

The Wii Mini is no iPad Mini, bascially because Nintendo is no Apple.

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Read/Post Comments (4) | Recommend This Article (1)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On November 28, 2012, at 11:11 PM, lucasmonger wrote:

    To turn the tide, Nintendo just needs to bite the bullet, give up the hardware side of their business, make a Bluetooth or USB receiver that works with the Wiimotes, and port their Mario software family to Windows 8 ultrabooks, IOS and Android phones and tablets, and charge $30 (discounted from the current $50) for their top titles that you pay for once and run anywhere. Consumers get the games they want on whatever devices they own for less than they currently pay today, Nintendo saves on packaging and distribution of physical media to stores, and the number of units will climb through the roof. Fighting this will only prolong their death.

  • Report this Comment On November 28, 2012, at 11:24 PM, Nomadder wrote:

    I haven't played a Wii in years but this article made me curious.

    Are games actually cheaper on the online store?

    That seems...unlikely.

    At least to someone used to seeing games going for 10-20 on Amazon or Gamestop being hawked for 30-40 on Microsoft's store.

    I know Steam can't be beat but they're the only digital retailer I know of that regularly prices below physical copies.

    If Nintendo actually does likewise, I might have to look into that (as there are finally enough games out that a cheaper Wii might be worth a flyer).

    At any rate, isn't this just an example of test marketing? It hardly seems worthy an attack article, or comparisons to a full-blown release of a new product (as opposed to a trimmed down version of an older one).

    Most people aren't going to care too much about this, and Nintendo (clearly) doesn't expect them to.

    I think a larger announcement and a wider release would have been a worse execution strategy for something like this.

    I mean, really, come on now. This is hardly the PSP Go.

  • Report this Comment On November 29, 2012, at 12:27 AM, matthewluke wrote:

    "In fact, a day after Nintendo announced that it had sold 400,000 Wii U and 300,000 Wii consoles last week -- seemingly a good start to its new Wii U platform -- Microsoft revealed that it had cleared 750,000 Xbox 360 systems."

    Nintendo has sold pretty much every Wii U unit they have produced thus far. Sold out basically everywhere.

    The Xbox 360's number of 750,000 sounds nice, except it is down from almost 1,000,000 during the same time last year..

  • Report this Comment On November 30, 2012, at 4:44 PM, FoolinSD wrote:

    Personally, I would prefer a non-wifi wii. I'd rather have ethernet at my entertainment center.

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