1) Nintendo did not like the shortages last time. In the internet generation, where everyone thinks the world is free and advertising is an end instead of a means, people honestly think Nintendo and Microsoft liked their shortages to get "press." However, you know what companies actually like? Selling the things they get press for. They HATE having people want a thing and not being able to sell it. There is no end game that has it better to have a shortage for years. None. It's a nice free story early on. Later on it is just tons and tons of lost sales. So they likely worked hard to have enough stock this time.
2) I honestly don't think Wii U is intended to be like the Wii. I'm sure Nintendo would LIKE that, but I don't think they expect it. If you honestly spoke to the people at Nintendo (and Microsoft and Sony) right now, I think they'd all have a similar hope for this generation: to make some money and not go bankrupt or become a software publisher. I don't think it'll happen. I think one of them is done this generation, and I think they all know it. Hence, Nintendo is hedging on selling to the highly profitable core set, with some crossover appeal. If you doubt that look at the pack ins. Wii: Wii Sports. Wii U: Possibly nothing at all. Do you really think they expect nothing at all to have the impact of Wii Sports on casuals? "Hey Jimmy, remember that game that played Golf and Bowling? They have a new game thing out! It comes with nothing at all! Let's get it!" Nah, this generation is a holding pattern. I think they want another N64. I don't think they are expecting another Wii. You can't expect a craze. It just doesn't happen that way.
Nope, just the expensive one. The cheap one has nothing.
Further evidence: The one that looks the most like the original Wii (the white one) is the one that has nothing. Also, the black one comes with Nintendo Land. Does anyone believe Nintendo thinks the average casual wants to play games themed after Luigi's Mansion and Metroid?
Trust me, there's a reason the Wii was all over daytime TV when it launched and the Wii U barely has TV ads at all. It's directed at us, as a way of fending off death and making some money for another generation while they plan the next move. It's not their first move like this. The GBC and Gamecube have been similar offerings. They were followed by the GBA and Wii respectively.
The Wii U is available online at Target and Gamestop if you wan to grab one. I have also seen them in a few stores. I am tempted but I have a feeling there will be a price drop within a year. Plus, there is only a few games i want for it now. That being said I am very tempted....it is a new system after all!