It’s been a week where social media metrics, combined with initial sales data available in the UK, have pointed to a solid start for the Switch OLED model. Now that the Japanese sales data is emerging, though, it seems that the system has hit a bump in the road.
The issue isn’t its popularity, but seems to be more related to manufacturing issues and – perhaps – a strategic error on Nintendo’s part. Bloomberg has shared an interesting report on the Famitsu sales figures, which shows that the launch of OLED has performed below the original and Lite models in Japan. Yet pre-orders in the country sold out quickly, demonstrating that the issue has been Nintendo’s inability to meet demand.
- OLED Launch Sales – 138,409
- Lite Launch Sales – 177,936
- Original Switch Launch Sales – 330,637
Due to demand for the OLED model many stores in Japan are reportedly implementing lottery systems to determine who can buy one. The issues at manufacturing can in part be attributed to chip and part shortages, which are affecting the broader technology industry globally. In addition, though, Bloomberg highlights ‘an executive at an assembly partner’ suggesting that Nintendo’s split of manufacturing between Standard, Lite and OLED models pointed to limited confidence in demand for the newer model.
When the OLED was announced the reception in some quarters was certainly lukewarm, based on what the device doesn’t bring to the table. That tone seems to have shifted to more positivity in recent weeks, but it’s possible that early reactions to the system drove Nintendo to produce a very conservative volume of stock. It’s also possible that a little more priority for stock was given to North America and Europe, which are lucrative markets for the company.
It’s a combination of factors, undoubtedly, but it has led to a shortage of systems in the Japanese market. There’s also weakening demand for the older original model, raising concerns that Nintendo could be left with too many unsold systems if momentum falls too far. Of course we have the prime shopping season coming up globally, so Nintendo will be hoping to see all models in demand as people hunt for gifts.
All told, the Switch OLED is hugely popular right now in Japan – there just aren’t enough of them to meet demand.