Apple accounts for 10 per cent of mobile games market

Apple accounts for 10 per cent of mobile games market
A new report from Screen Digest suggests that the iPhone was responsible for 10 per cent of US and Canadian mobile game sales in 2008, accounting for around $100 million in revenues.

These figures are at once impressive ($100 million is hardly pocket change) and also surprisingly marginal, considering Apple recently hit the 1 billion downloads mark (working out at 10 cents per download, only three of which go to Apple).

Yet it shows a massive shift in the mobile gaming paradigm. In 2004 to 2005, growth of operator distributed mobile games peaked at around 50 per cent, which the report suggests will drop to just 7 per cent in 2009. The slack, it seems, is being taken up by the new range of smartphones, being led by the iPhone.

In comparison to mobile handset sales, which total an estimated 600 million units in the second half of 2008 (given that the iPhone 3G launched in July), the iPhone still has a lot of catching up to do, with one of the poorest performers of the year, Motorola, still outselling the Apple handset almost ten fold.

However, the iPhone isn't quite so easy to pigeon hole. Since the launch of the App Store in July 2008, the device has also been competing outside the mobile market, against portable game platforms such as the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP.

While game sales revenues for the two consoles easily outweigh those of the iPhone's (considering the considerable difference in unit prices and Apple's lack of first-party development and/or publishing) the platform has performed supremely well.

Apple reported iPhone sales of 13.7 million by the end of December 2008, compared to annual DS sales of 29.5 million and PSP sales of just less than 14 million. Factoring in similar sales of the iPod touch, were the Apple platform to be considered a gaming device over a mobile phone, it's in position to become the market leader.

As the App Store nears its first anniversary, with a new iPhone model and software imminent, one thing is for certain: The clear division between mobile gaming and portable consoles has been blurred by Apple's competitive entry into both markets with a single device.

Companies on both sides of the iPhone are frantically attempting to duplicate Apple's pioneering success, while gamers and mobile users alike flock to the only system capable of taking on two diverse markets with a single handset that's still growing after a year on the shelves.

Yes. Spanner's his real name. And, yes, he's heard that joke before.


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