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Nintendo Wii U sales near half a million ahead of UK release

The Nintendo Wii U will be hitting the UK with considerable momentum on its Friday release, having already sold 400,000 units in the US since its 18 November launch Stateside.

The Wii U with touch-screen GamePad is the first major Nintendo console release since 2006, and, unsurprisingly, it sold out just days after it initially went on sale.

The original Wii sold 600,000 units in eight days after its November 2006 launch, which coincided with Black Friday.

Nintendo did not respond to request for comment, but the company's US-based president, Reggie Fils-Aime, told CNET that total national hardware sales reached more than 1.2 million units, including the Wii U, Wii, 3DS, and DS.

"Wii U is essentially sold out of retail and we are doing our best to continually replenish stock," Fils-Aime told CNET. "Retailers are also doing their best to get the product to store shelves. But as soon as product hits retail, they're selling out immediately."

Almost any new piece of technology these days - pple's iPhone 5, fourth-gen iPad, or iPad mini, the Google Nexus 7 tablet and Nexus 4 phone, Microsoft's Surface tablet - seems to be leaving shelves quicker than they can be stocked. The same was true of the original Wii console, which, six years ago, garnered lines of hopeful customers awaiting the new units.

The Nintendo president doesn't predict the same outcome with the Wii U, though.

"Wii was a unique phenomenon," he told CNET. "You couldn't walk into a retailer and buy a Wii until spring 2009. We've certainly learned many lessons from that and we are replenishing retailers more quickly this time around. It's driven by consumer response."