The Nintendo 3DS launched on February 26, 2011 in Japan, on March 25, 2011 in Europe and on March 27, 2011 in North America. The device naturally sold out in Japan, selling close to 400,000 units in just two days.
As always, in North America it was slightly less popular. Consumers bought just fewer than 400,000 Nintendo 3DS systems in the week after it was launched, according to Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime. "We are very satisfied with this start and we look forward to the momentum that we will build on Nintendo 3DS with the launch of the E-Shop, the launch of the 3-D trailers for Hollywood movies and the launch of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time in mid-June, as well as the launch of Netflix later on in the summer," Fils-Aime told USA Today. Furthermore, he downplayed comparing the numbers to the original DS:
Is it fair to compare the launch of the Nintendo 3DS and the Nintendo DS?
It really is apples and oranges. When we launched DS we launched going right into the Thanksgiving week (in 2004). From a pure timing seasonality, you are not going to be able to compare the two launches. We are going to be continuing to sell DS and that platform is going to continue to build on its legacy of the best-selling hardware system ever in the US. I would love to have the Nintendo 3DS eclipse that, but this is a new platform that we have just given birth to. I would love to have ongoing comparisons to the DS business because that would certainly mean we are doing a good job growing the Nintendo 3DS business.
In North America, Nintendo launched its new handheld 3DS game system much more quietly when compared to previous systems. It also used the same strategy as with the Wii: staging supply so it would not sell out. The company had product going directly to stores and product in distribution centers, so they could easily replenish when stores ran low on inventory.
The 3DS offers 3D gaming sans 3D glasses and also includes the ability to take 3D photographs thanks to dual cameras on the back of the device. You can adjust the 3D intensity or turn it off completely using the slider. Nintendo issued a warning that it is not healthy for kids under the age of 6 to view 3D images.
The device also has an accelerometer, a gyroscope, a little analog circle pad, a home button, and a charging cradle. There's even an activity logger that acts like a pedometer, counting your steps and awarding coins that can be exchanged for bonus content, and a Street Pass function that lets you share certain information (think Miis) with passers-by who also have the feature activated.