The Changing Handheld Market
There are some new numbers for 3DS sales. Quoted from the 3DS Catch-All:
The 3DS has sold 4.5 million in hardware and 9+ million in software in it's first year in the US. It's a great turnaround after the horrible launch and the 3DS is outpacing both the Wii and DS sales in the US. We know that the 3DS is at 5+ in Japan and 4.5 in the US so if we assume that EU numbers are close this system could reach 25+ million worldwide in only it's second year. For a little perspective, the GameCube sold ~21 million worldwide and the Xbox sold ~24 million worldwide in their lifetimes. Pretty zany.
Then there's this from Forbes:
Forbes[/url]]They may have their doubters, and I count myself among them at times, but it’s never wise to bet against Nintendo.
The company looked like it was poised to make its first major hardware mistake in years, as the 3DS got off to a slow start in sales, and customers complained about the lack of quality titles and the sometimes dizzying glasses-free 3D.
But as the 3DS turns one year old, and we look at how the numbers have rebounded, it’s hard to say that the handheld is anything other than a win for Nintendo. They released some official numbers today, and most tellingly compared them to the initial sales of their last smash hit, the DS. The 3DS outpaces it in almost every category, and it shows that despite the rise of casual mobile gaming with Apple‘s iPhone and Google‘s Android, traditional video game portables aren’t nearly dead yet.
The 3DS has sold 4.5M units in the US as compared to the DS’s 2.3M in the first year. It has released close to double the amount of software titles, and sold nearly twice as many as well. Combined sales figures for hardware and software for the DS were $540M its first year, while the 3DS has sold $1.2B worth in the US.
This week, the 3DS is now being outpaced in sales 2:1 in the US and 5:1 in Europe by the recently released Sony Vita, but still outsells it 7:1 in Japan. The Vita has made a large splash, but as it’s just been released and the 3DS has been out for a year, it’s no surprise.
There's encouraging numbers about the Vita, as well, as Sony sells 1.2 M units worldwide, and some analysts predict it could hit 12.4 M sales this year if they cut the price. At the same time, it's sold more slowly than the PSP in the UK and other parts of Europe, and sales have effectively stagnated in Japan.
Then, of course, there's that iOS thing that might or might not have anything whatsoever to do with handheld gaming consoles.
So rather than clog up the 3DS and Vita Catch-All threads with market and money talk, let's hash it out here. What's the future of the handheld market look like? Are Nintendo and/or Sony in as much trouble as they appeared to be this same time last year? Are they really in competition with the iPad 3?