Gamasutra has a great look at the history of video game console prices:
Some analysts criticized Nintendo for the $250 price of the original Wii, saying that the company left money on the table when demand outstripped supply month after month. With two Wii U models at two prices, Nintendo is attempting to maximize income from the high-end models while still capturing consumers with tighter budgets on the lower end. In fact, the Wii U now represents the most expensive console ever launched by Nintendo.
Hit the link for charts that compare console prices all-time, both unadjusted and adjusted for inflation. Based on the latter, the Wii U looks well-priced, but without Wii remotes for multiplayer included, or even a game on the basic version (Remember how Wii Sports sold the original Wii?), the low price is deceiving.
What worries me more about the Wii U than its pricing is its overall strategy. The days of buying $60 game discs at retail are quickly fading, and its tablet controllers may be viewed as an unnecessary cost to homes that already have multiple smartphones and tablets in them.
Nintendo is no stranger to home console failure, as both the N64 and GameCube failed to win their respective rounds of the console wars. This time however, there is a serious question of whether Nintendo can survive in the hardware business if they lose again.