Demand for Nintendo Switch Leads to Nintendo and Apple Battling for Scarce Parts

Nintendo Switch went on sale in Japan around 9:00 am local time on March 3, 2017

Having trouble getting your hands on Nintendo’s newest hit console? The problem may be in your pocket.

Nintendo hopes to sell another 10 million Nintendo Switch consoles in the next fiscal year, but they are trying to produce nearly double that number in order to meet demand. Yet despite their ambition, production efforts are being hamstrung. The culprit? None other than Apple, who needs many of the same parts to produces their internationally popular products.

NAND flash-memory chips, LCD screens, and vibration motors top the list of sought-after commodities to the industry at large. The sudden addition of a wildly-popular new console employing many of the same technologies has caused a significant shortage in parts, and manufacturers simply have not been able to keep up with demand.

A spokeswoman for Toshiba stated that “Demand for our NAND flash memory has been overwhelmingly greater than supply, and the situation is likely to stay for the rest of this year.” That is bad news for Nintendo, because the video game giant simply cannot compete with hardware as widespread and established as the iPhone. One is a very hot new piece of entertainment, but the other has become so deeply ingrained in our daily lives that it can cause its own version of separation anxiety.

If Nintendo can’t out-order Apple, their only alternative is to out-pay. But paying more would stress Nintendo’s bottom line, and could potentially push the Switch beyond the sleek $299 price point that is proving so popular.

Furthermore, the production of additional units isn’t always translating into additional households. The Switch’s portable nature — but complete lack of transferable save data — has prompted many families to purchase multiple consoles. So while the Nintendo Switch moved almost 3 million units in March alone, there are still many people who have yet to even see it on store shelves.

It’s not looking like the shortage will end anytime soon, regardless of Nintendo’s willingness to bolster production. Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima is determined not to sell the Switch at a loss, and the company is already doing costly air-cargo deliveries to get the console from the production line to retailers as fast as possible.

If you are interested in getting a Switch, be prepared to hunt — even through this year’s distant but inexorable holiday season.

Follow Nate Church @Get2Church on Twitter for the latest news in gaming and technology, and snarky opinions on both.


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