Week that was

PG.biz week that was: DeNA's up 167%, Capcom 13%, while Glu drops 5%, THQ 52%, plus a resurgent EA buys Firemint

The past seven days' news compressed bite-sized

PG.biz week that was: DeNA's up 167%, Capcom 13%, while Glu drops 5%, THQ 52%, plus a resurgent EA buys Firemint
Jetlag aside, it has been another busy week in the world of PocketGamer.biz; the world of app stores, smartphone platforms, developments in mobile game making and assorted technology.

The most obvious talking point was companies' quarterly financial figures.

Taking the headlines - both as the biggest mobile gaming company, and providing the biggest surprise was EA Mobile. Not only did it snap up mobile super developer Firemint for an undisclosed fee (less than $25 million apparently), it saw Q4 sales (for the period ending March 31), up 27 percent.

The impressive $70 million of revenue booked in the period, helped EA Mobile to a full year total of $230 million, compared to $212 million a year ago.

Incidentally, this is better than Gameloft's FY2010 of around $193 million.

It announced its Q1 figure two weeks ago (it's out of sync by three months compared to EA's financial period so EA's Q4 is Gameloft's Q1). It was €39.5 million, or around $59 million, so after previous closure between the two, EA Mobile is now well in the lead.

Incidentally, this was the first full quarter it included Chillingo's sales figures; another reason it would have jumped.

On the up

Other companies announcing impressive financials were Capcom Mobile, which saw its full year sales up 13 percent to $50 million; thanks in the main to free-to-play titles Zombie Cafe and Smurfs' Village.

Japanese giant DeNA had massive news, with its annual sales up 167 percent to $1.38 billion, thanks to its decision to open up its Mobage mobile platform to thirdparty developers in Japan at the start of 2010.

US freemium publisher Glu Mobile is still making the transition to freemium however. Q1 sales were down 5 percent; its quarterly sales have now been dropping for almost 2 years. Still, smartphone revenue was up 94 percent sequentially.

Glu also announced a partnership with start up Blammo Games, which was founded by the head of Capcom's Canadian studio; responsible for Zombie Cafe and Smurfs' Village, and a trans-media deal with best-selling author James Frey.

Ending the financial thread, THQ Wireless - which has now pulled out of the mobile industry bar some legacy iOS releases - completed its final full fiscal year with FY11 sales of just $5.4 million, unsurprisingly down 52 percent.

Oh, and mobile ad network JumpTap raised $25 million in fresh funding round.

Rising tide

Let's stick with numbers. Everyone wants to know how many Windows Phone 7s Microsoft has sold. It's not telling but Russian tech blogger Murtazin reckons sales in 2010 were 674,000. Other estimates suggest 4.35 million units have now been shipped.

More trustworthy estimates came from Canalys, which reckons 101 million smartphones were sold in Q1 2011. It suggests Android is the leading platform with a 35 percent market share. Nokia remains ahead of Apple and RIM.

Interestingly, sales of Samsung's bada platform are now estimated at 3.5 million; mainly in UK, France and Germany. This week, it announced its bada-focused Samsung Apps store would now support carrier billing in Europe and Asia.

Rival analyst IDC had a crack at estimates too. It pegged total mobile sales in Q1 2011 as 372 million, placing Nokia in the #1 spot with 29.2 percent market share. It was followed by Samsung, LG and then Apple.

Then the beancounters had a go at counting apps.

ABI Research reckons there will be 44 billion apps downloaded in 2016, thanks mainly to Apple and Google. IHS Screen Digest went for a cash approach, claiming the apps market would be worth £3.9 billion in 2011, 75 percent of which would be channeled through the Apple App Store.

The hive mind

Of course, predictions are a dangerous line of work to be engaged in. At PocketGamer.biz, we're a thoughtful bunch, but we try not to rub the crystal ball too hard.

There are plenty of numbers and graphs in our excellent Mobile Gaming Trends Report 2011, but we instead focus on ways of being successful, rather than how much success.

Indeed, we were particularly thoughtful this week. I wrote about the top 10 things I learned from the excellent AppNation 2011 conference, while our dear departed colleague Tracy Erickson let rip at what he considers is the hype of freemium games with three articles covering Quality, Cash and Fashion.

By the way, his new gig is with Unity's Union program, which announced the first wave of games that will be coming to RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook tablet in the summer.

And let's end with the attempt to spread the thoughtfulness industry-wise. This week our PG.biz Mobile Gaming Mavens tackled the subject of the future of social mobile platforms, following the purchase of ngmoco and OpenFeint by DeNA and GREE respectively. As you can read, there were plenty of opinions expressed.

Until next time folks...
Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at PG.biz which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.