Late last year, there were some rumors that Sony might buy the factory that manufactures some of the DRAM (memory) chips for the Wii U. Now it’s official: Sony has shed out $75 million to purchase the Renesas Electronics semiconductor manufacturing plant in Tsuruoka, Japan.
Before Nintendo fans start worrying, note that the plant was in financial trouble and was in danger of closing — which wouldn’t have been good for Nintendo and the Wii U in the short run. Sony stepped in with some cash, and now they own a factory that makes chips for Nintendo.
According to reports, Nintendo has been looking for a new partner to make its Wii U DRAM component ever since the current factory got into financial trouble. But for now, they’re stuck with Renesas Electronics, even if it’s owned by Sony.
This shouldn’t have any effect on Wii U production or pricing — the component price was set a long time ago, and Sony is likely contractually obligated to carry out any orders placed before they assumed control of the factory. A statement from Sony indicates that once Nintendo’s (and other companies’) contract runs out, they will have to look for production elsewhere.
This isn’t unheard of in technology business. For example, while Apple and Samsung are spending millions fighting each other in court, Samsung makes a lot of the components that go into iPhones, iPads, etc.
The Wii U has now been in steady production for 18 months (starting in August 2012), without any major hiccups or hardware issues.