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Wii wins December sales race

Nintendo's Wii video-game console beat Microsoft's Xbox 360 in US sales for the key month of December, but supply shortages kept the race close.

The Wii sold 1.35 million units in the country for the month, according to data released Thursday by the research firm NPD Group. The Xbox 360 was second, with 1.26 million units. Widespread shortages of the Wii tempered Nintendo's sales.

Sony, meanwhile, saw its older PlayStation 2 console come in third place, with 1.1 million units sold - topping its newer but costlier PlayStation 3, which registered 798,000 units sold in the U.S. for the month.

That unlikely turn of events also can be attributed in part to supply shortages of the Nintendo Wii, NPD Group analyst Anita Frazier said in a statement accompanying the data. She said the PlayStation 2, rather than the Xbox 360 or PS3, was a popular option for some people who couldn't find a Wii during the holiday shopping season.

“Given the breadth of available content and the price point of the PS2, it's a mass-market-friendly choice and will continue to be an important part of the games ecosystem for several years,” Frazier added.

The NPD numbers don't reflect worldwide sales. On an international basis, the Wii has been outpacing the Xbox 360, essentially matching the Microsoft game console's worldwide total in half the time on the market.

Activision's “Call of Duty 4” for the Xbox 360 was the top-selling game in the US for the month, according to NPD.

For the full year in the US, Nintendo sold 6.3 million Wiis, compared with 4.6 million Xbox 360s sold by Microsoft and 2.6 million PlayStation 3s sold by Sony. Microsoft was the leader in dollars spent on hardware, games and accessories, with $4.8 billion spent in 2007 on the Xbox 360 ecosystem, compared with $3.5 billion on the Wii and $2.2 billion on the PlayStation 3.

In a statement Thursday, Sony noted that PlayStation 3 unit sales were up 60% in December, compared with the same month last year. The company cut the price of the console in advance of the holiday season.

Wii shortages were the big story of the holiday shopping season, but Microsoft also experienced some supply shortages that appear to have affected its numbers, said David Dennis, a Microsoft spokesman. He said the company heard from some retailers that they were sold out of Xbox 360s during the last part of December and early January. (seattlepi)