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Nintendo says the Wii U will be out in 2012, but can it boost the company’s falling profits?

Nintendo Wii U controller: Super Mario Bros.Proving that Apple is the exception at the moment, Nintendo has published its financial results for the final quarter of 2011, which unfortunately saw a 61% drop in profits and a 40% fall in sales revenue too.

The company also re-evaluated its projected sales for the Wii and 3DS, cutting them from 12 million to 10 million, and 16 million to 14 million respectively. Bad news all round, especially when you consider the 3DS had an early price drop last year.

It wasn’t all negative however, as the president of Nintendo, Satoru Iwata, has confirmed that the Wii U console will be going on sale in the USA, Europe and Japan in time for the 2012 holiday sales period. With Black Friday often symbolizing the beginning of the Christmas rush in the US, a November date is possible.

However, will the Wii U be the savior Nintendo needs it to be? From a consumer viewpoint, many either won’t know anything about it at all, or will be scrabbling around for what little information Nintendo has so far released. We’ve had a hands-on with the device recently, and have high hopes for the application store and eBook store said to be launching alongside the console, but crucial details such as pricing and game selection are still all unknown.

We’re promised that E3 2012 will be the stage for the Wii U’s grand unveiling, with a chance of some information being revealed a little earlier.

Nintendo’s continued use of proprietary media could also be a stumbling block to the Wii U’s success, especially as rumors suggesting Microsoft could adopt Blu-ray for the Xbox 720 gather pace, potentially leaving the Wii U out in the cold when customers look for an “entertainment hub.”

If it’s one thing Nintendo does well though, it’s fun, and the Wii U looks to have plenty of it. But can an overdose of fun help them fend off Apple and Google Android, where the games are both casual and fun too.

Analysts are predicting dark days ahead for Nintendo, with a spokesperson for a Tokyo-based investment management company telling Bloomberg that discussions on “how much worse it can get” will be going on behind closed doors, while another speculates that profits will continue to drop as “people are starting to stay away from games consoles.”

Mr. Iwata said that he “had higher expectations for the year-end season, but failed to meet them,” and one has to wonder whether he’ll be saying the same thing this time next year. A quote from a fund manager interviewed by Reuters probably echoes what many think, that “if they don’t move into new categories, they will no doubt lose the great scale they’ve amassed.”

Instead of continuing to shun other platforms, perhaps Nintendo should embrace iOS, Android and all the rest. Surely this would be preferable to the potentially ignominious alternative?

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