Console Post Of The Week: January NPDFirst, let's look at the January NPD numbers again:
It's been generally acknowledged that the Wii was significantly supply-constrained, which looks to be true, since the Wii sold 679,200 units in January of last year. Plus (and incredibly), Wii sales last month almost doubled Wii sales in December 2008 (3.8M to 2.1M). So it seems safe to say that if the Wii hadn't been supply-constrained, it would have sold over 800,000 units (easily). It also could have been even more--the demand seems to be so large that it's difficult to even reasonably assess.
At this point, it's clear that in spite of what many people believed, there was a huge amount of untapped demand for the Wii at $199.
The PS3 situation is a bit more complicated. Sales basically doubled from September-December over last year, which is a nice pop for a 25% price cut, and the new Slim model is more aesthetically pleasing and runs much cooler, but the January numbers have to be a concern--it's only a 35% bump over last year, and even with the price cut, the PS3 was decisively beaten by the 360.
I don't think Sony has anywhere to go from here in the U.S. I don't expect a price cut this year, and I seriously doubt that Arc is going to stimulate sales in any significant way, no matter how much it's hyped.
People tend to forget that it wasn't the Wiimote by itself that blew people away--it was the Wiimote with Wii Sports. The software and hardware were a near-perfect match. Until we see a title with that level of appeal with Natal or Arc, a game that people feel like they have to have (and can't be played with a regular controller) they're both just bolt-ons to existing hardware.
This doesn't mean that Sony won't have its moments. God Of War 3 is going to be huge, certainly. Even with that, though, it looks like they're going to be third in the U.S. this year (like every year for the PS3). It won't be a rout, unless Microsoft has another $50 price cut, but Sony's $100 price cut only got them to parity with the 360 during the holiday season, not ahead, and the effect of the price cut seems to have sharply declined in January.
The one variable here is the possibility that the PS3 itself is supply constrained. I did get one e-mail from a reader who said it took them several weeks to find a PS3 locally, so it's possible, but I haven't heard Sony even mention the possibility, so I think that on a national scale, it's unlikely.