The NES sold about 60 million copies and the SNES sold about 50 million. By the 32/64 bit period in gaming the whole number of the market increased. The Nintendo 64 got beaten by the PSX sold over 90 million copies and the 64 sold about 32 million copies. 32 million console sales still brings in alot of money though. Nintendo's latest home console is the gamecube which has so far sold almost 20 million copies, very similar sales to microsoft's Xbox. The PS2 beat them both with over 100 mllion sales though.
Nintendo's game boy handheld console realeased in 1989 is the highest selling console of all time and sold over 150 million consoles internationally. The game boy colour sold over 1 million units in Australia alone and worldwide sold more copies then the 64. The game boy advance and gba sp sold roughly 50 million systems world wide. Nintendo's newly realeased Nintendo DS has so far beaten the PSP's sales but the PSP was realeased alot later, so the PSP may take over eventually.
Nintendo's next console to compete with the PS3 and Xbox 360 will be called the Nintendo Revolution.
The truth is, Nintendo's games aren't aimed at kids but for all ages and people who would like to play a fun game, regardless of how much violence it has. (Which is often turned down by Sony Fanboys, 9 year old casual gamers.)
Nintendo say they cherish their hardcore gamers but want to increase the total gaming population. But making a revolutionary system and drawing in casual gamers are two completly different things. Though we can not yet say for sure if the rev will be any good, if it is good it may still die (It's happend before.)
Even if Nintendo's Revolution fails, they currently still own most of the handheld market, and if that failed they could always become a software only company.
Nintendo's marketing strategy consists of gearing itself towards younger gamers, which more child-like titles, while at the same time attempting to win back it's nostalgia fanbase with remakes of classics such as Zelda and Metroid. Unfortunately, in the face of powerhouses such as the GTA series, Halo, and PC titles like Half-Life and pretty much any game Blizzard makes, Nintendo has been unable to compete with Sony and Microsoft.
This has lead to what some people believe the Nintendo Gamecube being the last Nintendo system (much like Sega's Dreamcast). The opposition to this are, the aforementioned 'nostalgia' gamers, who during the late 80's earlier 90's, instead of actually studying in school or working and getting money, played 'The Last Great Console' (NES or SNES, depending on what moron you ask) all day, and are now 30 year old males sitting in their parent's basement longing for the 'good ol days' when game challenges consist of whether or not Mario was going to move the direction you told him to.
Nintendo's latest marketing ploy is the DS, in an attempt to winback the handheld gaming industry in which it has dominated with it's Gameboy. However, heavy advertising and anticipation for Sony's PSP prove to be more than a match for Nintendo.
The 80's are over people. MJ is a pedophile, Alf went back to his planet, and Nintendo is a has-been gaming company.