The Switch is going to outsell every console that has yet been released. How can I make such a bold claim? Because the Switch will dominate both the handheld and home console markets with one console.
A console that can win both markets will clearly be the new winner of all time. VGChartz has the PS2 listed with 158m lifetime sales. What do you think the PS4 and 3DS final numbers will be? Now add those two numbers together. Even the most conservative estimate will easily be above 158m. If my claim about the Switch seems bold, it is not because the numbers can't be theoretically worked out on paper.
No, the real question that people have is "Can the Switch really win both the handheld and home console markets?" I say, "Yes, and it will do so for Generation 9". Let me break this down more specifically:
Nintendo has never lost the handheld market. Nintendo has been making handhelds for 30 years now, and no other other company has even come close to besting them. Many have tried. Sony, Sega, Atari, SNK, etc... have all tried their best to take the handheld market, and they have all been clobbered by Nintendo EVERY SINGLE TIME. Nintendo is ridiculously dominant in the handheld market. So, who is their main handheld competition for Generation 9? No one.
Now, I know there are people out there right now saying, "But the Switch is a Generation 8 console." Really? I thought the 3DS was Nintendo's Generation 8 handheld. And isn't the Switch the successor to the 3DS? Logically, the Switch is a Generation 9 handheld.
Furthermore, console generations are based on time period and not console power. The Wii was a Generation 7 console, even though it had the power of a Generation 6 console. Time wise the Wii was contemporary to the other Generation 7 consoles, so it is Generation 7. The Switch launched about 6 years after the 3DS, so it is the next generation, Generation 9. And since it is both a home and handheld console, it is Generation 9 for both home and handheld markets. History will not see the Switch as competition for the PS4, but for the PS5 instead.
So my point here is that the Switch will clearly win the handheld market for Generation 9 and with no handheld competition. Even people who would otherwise get a Sony PSP/Vita type handheld will get a Switch in Generation 9 instead.
The Switch is also going to win the home market in Generation 9. This claim is likely the biggest sticking point for many people reading this. How can I claim this? Because Nintendo's strategy for Generation 9 is to use their prowess in the handheld market to invade the home market.
And what is it that Nintendo does that always makes it's handhelds so successful? Every generation they do the same thing. During the first 2 - 3 years they release the majority of their best first party titles. Then when third party companies see that the handheld is selling well, they decide to make their games for it. The third party games keep the console's momentum going, and the handheld keeps selling well for years 3+. This is the strategy they have used with the 3DS and it is still selling well 7 years after release.
Nintendo also used this strategy with the NES, SNES and Wii and it worked fairly well with those consoles too (although less so with the Wii than the other two). On the other hand Nintendo tried this strategy with the N64, Gamecube and Wii U, and it didn't work because third party companies didn't give those consoles much support.
Switch is definitely going to get good third party support. And there is a huge positive feedback loop between games and gamers on a console. More games leads to more gamers. Then the higher console base means more third parties come on board. So then, more gamers also leads to more games. The number of titles and the console base snowball together. "What about Western Developers? What about AAA?" These questions are somewhat irrelevant. Switch is going to get so much support that it won't matter if it loses certain big companies. The games will be there and the games will lead to more gamers.
The Switch is going to win Generation 9 by being dominant in both the home and handheld markets. For the handheld market this is a foregone conclusion since it has no competitors. The Switch will also sell to most gamers in the home market because it will have a huge library of games. Once you add up the numbers from these two markets, the Switch will have unprecedented hardware sales. In fact, it will be the best selling console yet.
One last thing I want to say is that I ironically expect 2018 to be a disappointing year for Nintendo. Kimishima projects 20m Switches for fiscal year 2018. I think they are going to fall short of that by several million. So I don't know if this thread is going to be bumped in 2018 or not, but I very much expect the Doomsayers to come out in full force in 2018. The Switch isn't really going to rocket up in sales until 2019. That is when Switch is going to get Pokemon and some significant third party support. (1/23/2018)
EDIT 2 (5/4/2018):
As of Mar 31, 2018 Switch has sold 17.19m units total, which means they are doing fairly well right now. Nintendo is projecting 20m units for the next fiscal year. I don't expect them to make this goal for their next fiscal year, but that is ok, since the Switch sales are going to come back with a vengeance in years 2019 and beyond.