Each week Ross Rubin contributes Switched On, a column about technology, multimedia, and digital entertainment:
Nintendo has been on an Apple-like hit parade since the disappointing market performance of the GameCube. The DS and DS Lite handily staved off highly touted competition from Sony. The PSP may have appealed to a different, if for now narrower, demographic, but units are units, and there's no escaping them when you're marketing a platform.
The launch of the Wii has been nothing but magic mushrooms from the hype around the controller to the E3 reception to late-night Wii Tennis face-offs between Conan and Serena Williams. Check out this apologetic fan comment on Amazon's product page: "Graphics might not be high definition, but it looks very close to the Xbox 360 and PS3 when not running in HD mode. And definitively better than the original Xbox and PS2." Better than the Xbox and PS2, eh? That's setting the sensor bar pretty low for a system that shipped six years after the PS2.
Yet, it's no suprise that the Wii has been highly sought. I thought it was the best consumer technology product of 2006. The Nintendo team has executed almost flawlessly, but the company has brushed aside criticisms regarding product shortages without so much as a flick from a Wiimote. Commenting earlier this month on the mayhem surrounding Sony's PlayStation 3's product launch shortages, Nintendo of America vice president of marketing and corporate affairs Perrin Kaplan noted that "we didn't have anyone in line that got shot waiting for our system. So there's one sign of the different approaches between our two companies."