Confirming our earlier speculation that the 3DS might have lost momentum post launch, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata announced that the company's latest handheld has shipped 3.61 million units worldwide through the end of March, 10% below internal projections that the system would sell 4 million units in that time.
Iwata blamed the weak Japanese sales on the great earthquake, but he found it hard to blame the same earthquake for the North American and European lackluster sales. Instead, the Nintendo CEO admitted that they have overestimated the handheld's glasses-less 3D screen to drive sales through word of mouth.
"We originally expected that the value of 3D images without the need for special glasses would be automatically spread to some extent by many consumers experiencing the device by themselves and ... together with people around them," he said.
Iwata then revealed that Nintendo is committed to promoting the 3DS through an educational campaign that is designed to showcase the 3D slider, StreetPass and SpotPass features. The company will also launch a heavy promotion campaign by the end of May to accompany the launch of the 3DS eShop. The promotions aim to encourage 3DS owners to go online and download the system update required to access the eShop where they can download a free copy of the 3D update of the NES classic Excitebike as one of the first promotions.
But it is not all loom and gloom for the 3DS as Nintendo's market research have shown that a lot of the customers interested in the system are taking a "wait-and-see" approach which Iwata is sure will turn into a purchase with the upcoming software releases.
"There is no easy road to making people understand the attraction of glassless 3D images and making Nintendo 3DS widespread," Iwata argued. "We would like to adhere to these patient efforts."