The Incredibly Cheap $100 Nintendo 3DS

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You probably paid $250 for that sleek cobalt black or aqua blue Nintendo 3DS you snatched up Sunday. Now guess what Nintendo’s paying.

Try $103 and change, or less than half your bill. That’s what analyst iSuppli estimates the company’s forking over in manufacturing costs for every 3DS that rolls off the line, though cautioning the estimate doesn’t account for “software, licensing, and royalties.”

iSuppli basically tore a Japanese 3DS down to its component parts and tracked their wholesale costs. Nintendo’s total bill of materials? $100.71. Tack on a $2.54 manufacturing additive and you get a production total of $103.25.

If accurate, that $100.71 would be a 33 percent leap over the DSi’s bill of materials two years ago. Nintendo launched the DSi at $180, and currently sells it for $150.

No surprise, most of the 3DS’s internal tech-organs are Japanese made, which increases Nintendo’s supply chain risk given the recent earthquake.

Nintendo’s probably paying about $34 for the dual screens–one 3D, the other a 2D touchscreen–both from Sharp. That puts the screens at 33 percent of Nintendo’s total cost, and makes them the single priciest part.

The second most expensive item would be the circuit board, ranging from switches and connectors to plastics and metals and tallying about $21 altogether.

From there, it’s a sharp drop to $10 for the dual-core ARM processor, $8 for memory, $7 for the gyroscope, audio codec, and accelerometer, $5 for the wireless chip, another $5 for all three VGA cameras, $4 for the power management system, $3.50 for the battery, $3 for the charger and box materials, and less than a buck for “timing components.”

If you want a peek at all that stuff laid bare, iSuppli’s offering photo cut-ups and zooms at the bottom of this page.

You have to hand it to Nintendo. No one else–Sony and Microsoft included–can sell consoles with margins like these.

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