On the little argument about who might win the next gen console war, this post got me thinking, what if there was a pattern?
I open this comment with a disclaimer: Correlation does not imply causation. Furthermore, this is merely my and only my opinion on the matter, feel free to politely disagree.
With that said, if you look at the following dates, you will see that the success of the specific consoles isn't merely random.
Playstation (1) NA release date: September 9, 1995
N64 NA release date: September 29, 1996
Winner (by sales): PS1
Playstation 2 NA release date: October 26, 2000
Gamecube NA release date: November 18, 2001
Xbox NA release date: November 15, 2001
Winner (by sales): PS2 (duh)
Xbox 360 NA release date: November 16, 2005
Playstation 3 NA release date: November 11, 2006
Wii NA release date: November 19, 2006
Winner (by sales): Wii*
The pattern we can see here is that the first console to hit the market is usually the one to ''win*'' their generation's ''war''.
*with the exception of the Wii, which by all accounts is more of a casual system than a hardcore console. Just consider how many Wiis are sitting around at homes' living rooms just gathering dust, so by that account we could crown the 360 as the winner (albeit still arguably) of this generation.
Other consoles like the saturn and the dreamcast aren't mentioned because, while they came before their respective console, they don't necessarily belong in their generational war. (the saturn is more of a beefed up Genesis/SNES than it is a PS1/N64. Likewise, the Dreamcast is a console that was way ahead of its rivals at the time (PS1/N64), but at the same time, it was not the beginning of the next gen (PS2/Xbox/GC) of which it somehow is part of.
On that same thought, I personally think that the WiiU is nothing more than a beefed up Wii which, like the Dreamcast, only makes it late to this current generation, but hardly the beginning of the next one. I would love to be proven wrong however, because it does have plenty of potential.
On a last note, one more disclaimer: I've owned all the consoles mentioned above (and even some of the more obscure ones not mentioned) but am currently an avid PC gamer (with none of the master race bias shenanigans) on which I will not comment because generations don't apply to PC gaming. I also claim no personal preference to any of the consoles mentioned above, in part because they all have specific strengths and weaknesses (amazing first party titles, incredible online communities, abundance of non-gaming specific features), and in part because my favorite games of all time are spread across all platforms and systems, with no single one coming above the rest.
Tl;dr: Console developers: don't be late to the party if you want your console to win.