Friday, October 05, 2007

Nintendo's Wiimote Jacket : Playing Nice?

Recently Nintendo has extended an offer to ship to all Wii owners, free of charge to those owners, plastic jackets for their Wiimote's. Given that the Wii is fast approaching it's first birthday, why would Nintendo risk a possibly cost of $17.4 million or greater in order to send the jackets out?

Is Nintendo going after the brisk market of Wii controller gloves that BD & A currently
sells? Not likely, BD & A's gloves come with a $10 price tag. The official Wiimote jackets are also a rather ugly clear plastic, or at least the pictures of the official Wiimote jackets are.

Right off hand the move is a great Public Relations Move. Nintendo has come under fire repeatedly over the past several months from quoted
consumer interest groups worrying about the safety of the Wii's motion based hardware. There have been quite a few comic artists and news agencies that have poked fun at the possibility of putting a Wiimote through a TV screen. As best as I can tell, none of those comic artists or news agencies have ever laid hands on a video game console before. There are hundreds of games out there that will make players want to put a controller through a TV, and many that have.

So, the Wiimote Jacket is a token offering, that Nintendo is somehow concerned with user safety. It won't shut the
consumer interest groups up, but it is my opinion that anything short of duct tape won't shut some of the consumer interest groups up.

The Wiimote jacket is also a good move on Nintendo's finances. As is well known, everything Nintendo does right now is calculated to drive a profit. From the first Wii unit shipped out, Nintendo was earning a profit on the unit.

The effective cost of the plastics jackets probably fits within the calculated cost difference between the Wii's actual hardware price coupled with taxes and import costs, and the general selling price (Australia need not apply).

Thus, while the Wiimote Jacket offer has the potential to put a dent in Nintendo's finances, even accounting for the past 10 to 11 months of sale, the calculated profit from each console should be enough to cover jacket production and shipping, never minding the profits from the Nintendo DS system, and the profits from games.

So, the move is a good PR move for Nintendo, it's a smart financial move, and it's not really going after the 3rd party market for controller gloves. With the only pictures of the jacket showing clear plastic versions, colorized gloves are still attractive in the eyes of the consumer looking to tell their Wiimotes apart.
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