Unlike its granddaddy, the Wii U is meant to lay down on the job.
The Wii U is designed exclusively for horizontal placement. In an interview with Kotaku, Nintendo creative lead Shigeru Miyamoto noted that one of the reasons they have been showing the system horizontally was so people would be clear it wasn't a Wii, which was traditionally shown standing vertically. Miyamoto indicated they could create a stand, but gave no sign that such a thing was in the works.
In addition, Miyamoto stressed that the face of the console shouldn't be the hardware itself, but rather the Wii U GamePad. "So just like a set top box is non-descript and tucked away, our feeling was that the Wii U hardware was something that could be tucked away and out of sight."
Miyamoto compared the Wii U to the Kinect in this respect, stating "So, for example, with even something like Kinect you can have your hardware put away and out of sight and you can wave at the TV and maybe the game will come on or something. Similarly with Wii U, when we [considered] ‘What is the face of Wii U going to be?', for us the face of Wii U really isn't the console box itself. It's the controller; it's the Wii U GamePad."