If you can recall back to this time almost four years ago, Apple had just announced their plans to enter the cellular phone market. Way back then, the iPhone was supposed to be a mere stepping stone for Apple into the mobile market. When it was first announced at Macworld 2007, Steve Jobs himself had stated that if they had sold 1 million phones in their first year, he would consider it a success. Another milestone was to make up for 10 percent of the smartphone market in the U.S. Fast forward to the present day and Apple has managed to sell over 50 million phones in only four years time, and the iPhone makes up 65 percent of mobile internet traffic. Mission Accomplished.
Along the way, they’ve managed to break ground in another major market as well. Since, the introduction of the App Store, the iPhone has become home to over 50,000 different games and entertainment applications. A space that was originally started as an outlet for low budget, gimmicky titles created by small indie developers, is now becoming the latest and probably most profitable avenue for big name development houses and publishers alike.
Apple’s entrance into mobile gaming has experienced what is undoubtedly the biggest growth in the shortest amount of time in gaming history. And for a while now, Apple has played the “nice guy” card by just playing it cool with a “yeah, our device has games too, it’s not a big deal” attitude. Well that has all changed as of today. During Apple’s iPhone OS 4.0 presentation, Scott Forstall (iPhone Software President) had a rather interesting slide during his presentation. Just take a quick look at it below.
Now, this isn’t the first time Apple calls out its competitors, as they’ve done it previous years with very clever attacks towards other cell phone manufacturers, such as RIM and Palm. However, this is the first time that they have singled out both the Sony PSP and the Nintendo DS as direct software competition. And with numbers as good as they have, why wouldn’t they?
With that one chart not only does Apple make consumers re-evaluate the value of both the Nintendo DS and the Sony PSP as viable gaming/media devices but they also make developers and publishers re-think their own strategies between the three platforms. Why put the extra effort, time, money and resources into developing for two very different platforms/architectures when you can have your title reach an even bigger audience? An audience with absolutely no manufacturing costs that need to be taken into account. Additionally, at the same time your title will make a home for itself in a library of over 50,700 games.
While Sony and Nintendo have both taken into account Apple’s presence in the market by delivering their own digital download stores, it feels as though it was done at a snail’s pace. Maybe it’s the certification process, or maybe it’s the development kit availability? Although, recently Sony has addressed those issues with its introduction of Minis. Even then, Sony’s answer to the Apple app store comes at a price of paying nearly five times the price of what’s currently available in the App Store.
It’s unknown what both Sony’s and Nintendo’s next moves will be in the digital title arena, especially considering that neither have eclipsed certain key price points in their respective online stores (PSN and DSiWare). What we do know is that Apple smells blood, and they’re probably a lot closer than most gamers think to really start putting a dent, not only in Sony and Nintendo’s sales numbers, but in the number of titles that will be produced for either handheld.
Hope you all are ready for a handheld console war, as Apple has just thrown the first punch. All I need to hear next is that they plan to attend and/or have an event during E3. When that happens, I can bury my DS and PSP in the yard.