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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