Mobile Mavens

The PocketGamer.biz Mobile Gaming Mavens on mobile's marvellous and mighty future

Predicting the next five years

The PocketGamer.biz Mobile Gaming Mavens on mobile's marvellous and mighty future

The PocketGamer.biz Mobile Mavens is our panel of experts drawn from all sectors of the mobile gaming industry.

During the last couple of weeks, we've seen Apple unveil its almighty iPhone 5, Nokia relaunch itself (again) with the Lumia 920, and the likes of Motorola and HTC unveil new handset ranges.

It was a sequence of events that led to PocketGamer.biz editor Keith Andrew questionning whether we're about to end the 'second stage of the smartphone wars'.

So, we asked the Mavens:

Where do you see the balance of power lying over the course of the next five years, and how will the life of the mobile developer change in the years ahead?

 

Alex Bubb Head of Partner Management and Marketing Microsoft Mobile

An innovative and passionate senior marketing leader with a track record over 16 years driving propositions and brand development client-side for leading companies including Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Electronic Arts, T-Mobile, Sony, and Canon.

Regarding the balance of power, it is always with consumers, so no change there.

The great thing about this industry is that it is 100 percent consumer driven, both in terms of handsets and games. Those players that innovate, excite and capture consumers' imaginations and new aspirations in the long run will succeed.

Yes, I am really looking forward to the 'second stage' of smartphone growth, but also about the growing scope for innovative game and entertainment experiences outside of the traditional western markets as the definition of a smartphone itself changes and continues to be re-invented.

Exciting times ahead.

Will Luton Luton & Son Founder

This will be on the internet forever, so I expect someone will be using these words to prove I'm an idiot in 2017.

I see little shift away from Apple's dominance over the course of the next five years. The players have been set in mobile and, save a big balls up from Apple, the loyalty from consumers and the mindshare from devs will keep it in place.

I think Android will continue to gain ground especially in budget markets, but will level off in two years or so.

I still don't see the place for Microsoft – as in how it differentiates from Apple (non-techy and high end) and Android (techy and low end). Nor Microsoft's gated Xbox Live store. Is that changing?

My eyes are on the next tech disruption, which I think is the living room rather than the pocket.

Alex Bubb Head of Partner Management and Marketing Microsoft Mobile

An innovative and passionate senior marketing leader with a track record over 16 years driving propositions and brand development client-side for leading companies including Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Electronic Arts, T-Mobile, Sony, and Canon.

On a personal note - and showing my age as a result - I remember as a wee Sony exec back in 2002 (exactly a decade ago) and probably with the best job in the UK at the time as European marketing lead for PlayStation 2 hardware, fielding similar arguments levelled at Microsoft when it announced Xbox the launch.

People said it'll never succeed, and they asked 'what does Microsoft know about games', stated 'kids aren't interested in Office '97', or asked 'what's its USP versus PlayStation, Nintendo, Sega' and so on.

What Microsoft did right was listen to consumers and launch a platform that was bang on when it mattered.

For mobile, it matters now. Fast forward 10 years and add the significant and dedicated handset and carrier support from the global mobile ecosystem - following Nokia's lead – and, as I said, there are exciting times ahead with plenty of new opportunities for mobile games, both Xbox Live and non Xbox Live.

Keith Andrew With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.

I think Alex makes an interesting comparison there.

What confused people about Xbox was that, initially, people didn't really know why Microsoft was doing it. It appeared to come from left field - like the company was allowing itself to take on Sony, Nintendo et al simply for the fun of it.

What we now know is that Microsoft considered the videogames business a long term threat to what it was doing on the PC. It wasn't the games themselves that worried Microsoft, but rather the potential of the vehicles people were using to play them.

The path Sony had plotted for PlayStation media wise would, in the years ahead, have brought them into direct competition with Windows. Xbox didn't come naturally to Microsoft - it was a necessity to secure its business, and one that is arguably only beginning to pay off now.

Windows Phone is an escalation of that same strategy. People like to talk about platforms converging - that our TVs will talk to our phones and tablets, and that all of them will talk to our PC, etc.

This is starting to happen now, but in reality, rather than breaking down walls between formats, such a direction simply builds newer, stronger ones.

In the years ahead, the smart TV or console you buy will have a direct impact on the phone you decide to put in your pocket, the tablet you buy to work on the go and the PC you have in your bedroom. All of them will work seamlessly with each other, but they'll require you to be loyal to one brand, one platform.

It's why Apple TV will, in time, be closely tied with iOS and Mac, why Google TV will increasingly interact with Android, why Sony is so keen to bring Sony Mobile on board with PlayStation, and why Microsoft risked its entire mobile venture by launching Windows Phone 8 - a platform that, while it severs ties with Windows Phone 7, is Windows 8's close cousin.

Microsoft's vision is that consumers who buy the next Xbox will, in turn, be more likely to own a Windows 8 PC or tablet and, as a result, own a Windows Phone.

I genuinely doubt Microsoft decided to re-enter the smartphone market just to deny Apple glory - it saw how iOS was changing the way people interacted with technology and the huge threat it would represent to Windows in the years ahead. Windows Phone and a dramatically revised Windows 8 - which, itself, is a huge huge risk - is a reaction to that.

It's using Xbox and Windows Phone to secure its core business - Windows. And it's betting the farm on it.

None of us can accurately say what market share the major players will boast over the course of the next 5 years. As Will says, any of us that do risk looking stupid when that time comes, given there will undoubtedly be a few iPhone-sized surprises from new players down the line.

But, what we can say is that, Microsoft potentially has the most to lose of all those currently in the game. That means it's unlikely it won't give this a major, major go.

Will Luton Luton & Son Founder

If Microsoft succeeds, it will take more than five years, I believe, as with the Xbox. You can only get so far, so fast by being a follower. Has Microsoft fully recouped on its Xbox outlay yet?

Also, agree with Keith: Microsoft has the most to lose. Almost everything.

Keith Andrew With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.

Oh, it'll take more than five years, Will. This battle ain't never gonna stop.

Oscar Clark Chief Strategy Officer Fundamentally Games

Oscar Clark has been a pioneer in online, mobile, and console social games services since 1998. He is also author of the book, Games As A Service – How Free To Play Design Can Make Better Games.

I can't do predictions; but here are my unsound ramblings.

First, Apple will either recreate the whole user experience of the iPhone and iPad with something inherently 'live', such as widgets or Microsoft's LiveTiles.

Either that, or it will have an 'Emperor's New Clothes' moment, when die hard fans suddenly lose the blind brand faith and turn their interest elsewhere - which will be more catastrophic than Nokia's decline of the last few years.

Samsung and Apple will still be suing each other over iPhone design patents.

Google Play will see greater competition in app retail with Amazon and another new major global brand driven to make a profit driven apps store business - giving better discovery, social recommendation and revenue for developers

Full performance (inc WebGL) HTML5 will still be being blocked by mobile OS companies, but middleware solutions will use the framework as standard.

Sony PlayStation will become a web service available on any device and uses a virtual world experience for the core startup experience. That or PlayStation will either no longer exist as a games brand, or be bought by Apple or Samsung

Microsoft will regain much of its lost credibility with tablets and mobile, but still in third place - unless Xbox is replaced with a tablet, when they could just dominate.

50 percent of triple-A games, including titles like Elder Scrolls VI, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 5, and the Grand Theft Auto after V will all be freemium ,but not as we know it.

Andrew Smith Managing Director Spilt Milk Studios

Thinking ahead that far gives me a headache. We'll probably have stopped worrying about mobiles and shifted our focus to in-eye implants for our gaming hit.

Seriously though, I find it tough enough peeking a few months ahead, let alone a few years. No doubt all the big players will still be around in one form or another, and I reckon Apple will still be the ones to beat.

The only definite thing is that the market will still be growing, smartphones will be totally prevalent in the major markets, and some companies will still make a ton of money from the feature phone markets.

There are enough customers out there to support everyone, but with Gree and the like making real waves by cordoning off huge chunks of the player base into soft-walled gardens (hedged gardens?), I think that is where the real difference between now and 5 years' time will be clearest.

Will tech converge to a point where essentially every game comes out on every platform, and the markets are defined by the social and gaming networks rather than the handsets and manufacturers? Maybe. Might even be a good thing.


With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.

Comments

No comments
View options
  • Order by latest to oldest
  • Order by oldest to latest
  • Show all replies