Not enough Wii to go around

NEW YORK - By 9 a.m., the line outside Manhattan's Nintendo World store was snaking down the block.

More than 100 hopeful Wii owners came from as far as New Jersey - some as early as 6 a.m. with kids and grandparents in tow - to get their hands on the gaming console best known for its wireless, motion-sensitive controller.

It's been more than seven months since Nintendo launched the Wii, but the consoles are selling so well that supply still hasn't caught up with demand. You can get one, sure, but be prepared to call around and arrive promptly when the shipments do.

"I had to get permission from work," said Regina Iannuzzi, 23, in line since 6:20 a.m. on a recent morning. She'd been looking for a Wii, a 25th birthday present for her brother, for two weeks. Every place was sold out.

Like sleeping in? Wiis are also available online, but at a hefty premium to the console's $250 retail price. A slightly used one from an seller called "Hard-To-Find-Stuff" recently listed for $595 plus $3.99 shipping. Another cost $398 from a different seller.

"The PlayStation 1 was certainly a big introduction, but I don't recall any game system more than six months after its launch still having this kind of demand," said Chris Byrne, an independent toy analyst.

Back in April, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata acknowledged an "abnormal" Wii shortage. Since then, the company has increased production "substantially" to help meet worldwide demand, said spokeswoman Perrin Kaplan.

But Nintendo also has to manage its inventory, said Colin Sebastian, an analyst with Lazard Capital Markets.

"Unfortunately you can't ask a contract manufacturer to make a million a month, then 5 million," he said.

Sony's PS3, which launched within days of the Wii last fall, is readily available in stores and online, but sales have been lagging behind the Wii. Cost could be one reason for this: the PS3 retails for up to $600.

More than 2.8 million Wii consoles have sold in the United States since the November debut, according to the NPD Group, a market research company. That's more than double the number of PlayStation 3 consoles sold. And Nintendo plans to sell 14 million worldwide in this fiscal year, which ends next March.

"You see it and you want it. Kind of like the iPhone," said Robert Marcus, waiting to buy a Wii with his wife and three young sons.

Nintendo's selling point for the Wii has been that it's for everyone: not just hardcore gamers or young men with impeccable hand-eye coordination.