Nintendo Wii Mini bound for Canada. Why not the US?

Nintendo is launching a Wii Mini device in Canada – but it's not clear when or if the device will hit the US. 

Nintendo
The Wiimote for the new Nintendo Wii Mini, which will debut in Canada this month.

Nintendo will debut a slimmed-down Wii Mini console in Canada in December, the Japanese gaming company has confirmed. 

The Wii Mini, which will sell for $99, is powered by the same aging innards as the current Wii console. But the device gets a compact chassis about the size of an external hard drive, a killer red and black paint job, and a matching red controller and nunchuk.

"Its family-friendly design has no Internet capabilities," Nintendo reps said in a press statement, "and does not play Nintendo GameCube games."

The Mini ships on Dec. 7. 

Now on to the big question: Why isn't Nintendo launching a Wii Mini south of the border, too? Nintendo, for its part, has said only that "no information is available about its potential availability in other territories in the future," which may mean we're not ever going to see a Wii Mini in the US. 

"Perhaps a quiet, limited relaunch is a good thing," says Dan Milano of ABC, "saving less knowledgeable parents and relatives from picking up the wrong 'new Wii' and causing Christmas morning disappointment." 

Well, maybe. But the "quiet" Canadian launch probably has less to do with potential brand confusion than it does simple marketing logic: Nintendo doesn't want anything to detract American consumers from the release of the Wii U. That console, which hit shelves late last month, and which received generally favorable reviews, has been positioned by Nintendo as the future of home gaming. 

"In the end, our competitors need to react to what we're doing in the marketplace and need to figure out what their innovation will be," Nintendo of America boss Reggie Fils-Aime said in a recently interview (hat tip to the Guardian). It's likely that faster processors and pretty pictures won't be enough to motivate consumers. They need to react to what we've done and we need to continue innovating with the Wii U and we will."

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