Week that was

PG.biz week that was: 79% of Gamevil's business is IAP, Windows Phone 8 will be native, Samsung's working on bada tablets, and vote for the IMGAs

PG.biz week that was: 79% of Gamevil's business is IAP, Windows Phone 8 will be native, Samsung's working on bada tablets, and vote for the IMGAs
With a brief sojourn to Hamburg - converted to the St Pauli cause - alongside our usual activity, it turned out to be another busy week at PG.biz: the home of news and views on the business of app stores, smartphone platforms, developments in mobile game making and assorted technology.

For various reasons, there was plenty of interesting announcements from Asian markets.

In Hong Kong, the iPhone 4S sold out before lunch, while in South Korea, pre-orders hit 200,000 in three days: the highest for any device ever.

That's good news for game developers, who now have access to a specific Games section on the Korean App Store. Indeed, app store analysts Distimo noted that 43 of the 100 top free apps on the Korean App Store are already games, with local company Gamevil, beating out Angry Birds to take #1 top grossing position.

The company also announced its Q3 financials, with sales up 40 percent to $9 million. Coincidentally, it also revealed it had generated 79 percent of its revenue from smartphone games sales, and 79 percent from IAP.

We also spoke to Lydia Heitman of the other big Korean game publisher Com2uS about its transition to becoming a majority smartphone business.

Some big numbers

Other news from the region concerned rumours that China Mobile wants a revenue share of Apple's App Store before it will officially support iPhone, while MoVend signed up for appbackr's SmartApps algorithm to populate Asian app stores including Samsung Apps.

In Japan, it looks like Korean online/mobile publisher Nexon will IPO; the rumoured $1.3 billion valuation would be the largest of 2011. Also, figures from Konami demonstrated it's the world's biggest mobile game publisher, as it posted $220 million of mobile revenue for H1 FY12, thanks - in part - to its current status with the top 5 games on GREE.

Rival social network DeNA was busy too, signing a deal with web portal Daum to bring Mobage to South Korea in Q1 2012, while US social publisher TinyCo will partnerwith ngmoco to bring its games to DeNA's Android Mobage platform.

Small wonder then that app store analysts App Annie was advising companies to localise their content if they wanted to maximise iOS revenue, especially in Asia.

Schmidt's reinforcements?

When it came to OS news, it was Android that was making headlines.

Lawsuits continue to rumble on, with Google chairman Eric Schmidt vowing to support Android OEMs in their various legal battles. Good timing as Chinese company Huawei confirmed Microsoft was demanded royalty payments over its Android business.

In the US, Barnes & Noble is already preparing for a similar court case. In the week it officially announced its new Android-based 7-inch Nook Tablet, it asked the court to reign in Microsoft over its 'campaign of asserting trivial and outmoded patents'.

Nevertheless, the volume of devices seems third parties continue to roll out new services, with WildTangent launching a dedicated app rental service for Android games, while Yahoo! is rolling out its own Android app store in Japan. Currently linking into Android Market, it plans to start selling its own apps in Q2 2012.

Nintendo's burning ship

The other major talking point of the week was the ongoing debate was Nintendo's position on mobile gaming, especially in light of the performance of the 3DS.

The good news was that Japanese 3DS weekly sales rose 100 percent on the back of the release of Super Mario 3D Land, but more fundamental was research from Flurry which demonstrated that the rise of iOS and Android as gaming platforms had halved Nintendo DS game revenue in the US.

This encouraged Keith to write an opinion piece arguing that Nintendo's overwhelming DS success was much to blame for its current woes as mobile momentum, although PopCap's David Bishop argued it should have quit hardware race about 18 months ago.

Bask in Mali

Perhaps the takeaway from the debate is that hardware is becoming almost as fluid as software. After all, rumours suggest that Samsung is working tablets based on its bada OS, while news of Nokia's Windows Phone Tango handset - codenamed Champagne - leaked.

It also seems that Microsoft will finally allow developers to use native code for Window Phone games, but only when WP8 is released later in 2012.

Taking an even longer term approach, ARM announced its latest GPU design Mali-T658. The up to 8 core design won't be in consumer hardware until 2013 however. Rival Nvidia expects the first hardware running its Tegra 3 chip architecture - ASUS's Transformer Prime - to be out before the end of 2012.

Software can change much quicker, but platform philosophy takes longer to mature. This week, Adobe signaled a fundamental change to its Flash Player mobile business, switching future development from browsers to more general support for HTML5 as a platform.

Lighting the Fire

Will Amazon's Kindle Fire be the first Android tablet to be a success? The early signs are good with strong pre-orders seeing Amazon raising its manufacturing run for 2011 to five million devices. Publishers are keen to support the channel with EA, Zynga, Rovio, PopCap and Gameloft announced as launch partners.

The PR might even be impacting iPad sales with a survey suggesting 26 percent of consumers are putting off an $499+ iPad purchase until the $199 Kindle Fire is released.

Still, if you want an example that the tablet game isn't plain sailing, remember HP and its TouchPad.

The debacle is rumbling along with HP's new CEO Meg Whitman saying that if it decides not to sell webOS, the company will be involved in the tablet market in a 'significant way'. It's a big if, however, with various companies, including Oracle, said to be interested in the operating system.

Sign TinyCo, win big

Let's end the roundup with some advertising news.

It continues to be a buoyant sector with mobile ad network Medialets raising $8.4 million in its third funding round, while Millennial Media highlighted its expansion in the Asia-Pacific market, with the appointment of Robert Woolfrey as head of regional operations.

The most interesting deal, however, saw new network Chartboost hooking up with TinyCo to persuade developers to run adverts promoting games such as Tiny Pets, Tiny Zoo and Tiny Chef. The encouragement is that taking the service run by Chartboost will see them get 100 percent of the ad cash, with the network foregoing its margin to build out its business and find new partners.

Chartboost CEO Maria Alegre told us why its direct advertising deal with TinyCo is win-win-win.

And you, dear reader, can also play your part helping developers for free. Entries for the 8th International Mobile Games Awards are now open, and this year have a new recommendation service so you can highlight your favourite mobile game of 2011.

Check out the simple form here.
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.

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