This is going to sound a bit weird, but hear me out.
When people talk about the Wii U's current weakness in the market, the obvious reason thends to be "software." Wii U sales were comprable to Wii sales around launch, but the reason they declined in 2013 was software. After all, by the end of 2007, the Wii had games like Super Mario Galaxy, Mario & Sonic at the Olympics, Metroid Prime 3, and Wii Fit to augment the more casual games like Wii Sports and Wii Play. The Wii U's problem is that it lacks notable software.
But looking back at the actual release calendars of the Wii and Wii U, I'm actually a bit skeptical...
In 2007, the first major Wii release was Wii Play, but only in North America. The first true major game of the year was a 3D Sonic platformer in February. Then we had a Paper Mario and a Big Brain game in April, Mario Party and a Resident Evil port in the week ending June 2, Dragon Quest Swords in July, and Metroid Prime 3 in the late summer.
Compared to that, the Wii U had a major LEGO game and Monster Hunter port in March, a Resident Evil port in May, Game & Wario in June, Pikmin 3 in the summer, and Rayman Legends and The Wonderful 101 towards the end of summer. Plus you had various ports like LEGO Batman 2 and Injustice sprinkled in.
Sure, the Wii lineup is more impressive. But is it five or ten times as impressive as the Wii lineup? Because that's what sales suggest.
Lineup is definately a problem for the Wii U, but I'm not sure if its the main one anymore. What else does that leave? The novelty factor of Wii Sports? Quite possible, but you'd expect the allure of a 2D Mario to at least partially make up for that. The Wii U Gamepad? Thing is, I've never heard a casual complain about the GamePad. They may think it's an add-on for the Wii, but they seem to like it. No, I think the problem is price, or more specifically, the $100 price increase over the Wii.
Yes, I'm aware that the original Wii cost $250 compared to the Wii U vanilia's $300. However, that Wii came with a game, sopmething the vanila Wii U doesn't. Even if you get the cheaper model Wii U, by the time you got a game, it was $100 more.
So how could Nintendo have lowered the price? Taking a hit and subsidizing the system ala Sony and Microsoft is not a bad idea, except Nintendo could hardly afford the losses. Sacrificing the GamePad and instead using the same old Wiimotes and/or conventional controllers was a possibility, but it would have robbed the Wii U of the novelty factor that made the Wii a success.
The only answer left from what I can see is making the Wii U less powerful. Giving it, say, 1 or 1.5 GB of RAM instead of 2 GB and the like. Aiming for PS360ish stats rather than somewhat more powerful than those systems. But imagine the harm this would cause Nintendo!
Seriously, imagine it.
Cause right now, I'm not coming up with much.
Yes, the Wii U would have had even less 3rd party support than it does now. But how much good has that done Nintendo so far? 3rd party games typically either don't sell that well or are never ported to the WIi U at all.
Yes, Nintendo would have to make games in 720p instead of 1080p. Considering how not all PS4/One games can even do 1080p (Killer Instinct), that is not as dramatic a loss as it sounds.
On the other hand, games would be easier for Nintendo to develop, due to the lower tech barrier. We might have seen Pikmin 3 in June after all, and Wii Party U over the summer. We might have seen a greater influx of indie developers, still using the GamePad but taking advantage of the larger userbase. We could see Nintendo being more willing to port over 3DS games or make some more games cross-compatible, if only because the difference betweent he two systems would be smaller.
Or maybe I'm being delusional.
That's a definite possibility.
Still, imagine a world where the Wii U launched at the same time, but at a price of $250, or $300 with Nintendo Land or NSMBU included. Imagine the sales of the system as games like Wii Party U, Wii Fit U, and Pikmin 3 are released on time, instead of being delayed by months. Imagine the indie influx as they realize that not only does the console offer possibilities not found on other consoles, but is also a viable platform and lacks compeition from the AAA scene. Sure, it wouldn't be the Wii all over again. But it could possibly be a better course for Nintendo.