Apple on threshold of becoming world’s market leader in handheld gaming

“For the last few days I’ve been sampling some of the games available from the iTunes Store on the iPod Touch, and I’ve been stunned at how elaborate and involved they are. On the iPod Touch I’ve played a version of Gameloft’s Real Soccer 2009 that rivals the version of the game on the Nintendo DS, and I didn’t even miss the buttons. I’ve seen demonstrations of Sim City, forthcoming for the iPhone and the Touch from Electronic Arts, that look more elaborate and sophisticated than any versions I’ve played before on a desktop PC or console,” Arik Hesseldahl reports for BusinessWeek.

“They’re immersive, addictive fun. And it’s now readily apparent to me that the iPhone and iPod Touch are well on their way to becoming an important force in handheld gaming. When you consider the ease and reach of Apple’s online method for distributing games, Apple could do in this category what it did in online music, causing big headaches for the genre’s established players, Sony and Nintendo,” Hesseldahl reports.

“Apple’s come a long way in short order. In the three months and change since the iTunes App Store opened for business, it’s already home to some 1,500 games, compared with fewer than 300 titles for Sony’s PlayStation Portable and about 600 for Nintendo’s handheld console, the DS,” Hesseldahl reports.

“The iPhone maker is also holding its own when it comes to units sold. Based on sales data and analysts’ projections, Apple is on track to sell an easy 40 million devices or more a year that are capable of playing games,” Hesseldahl reports.

“Nintendo sold 42 million DS consoles during the 18 months from January 2007 to June 2008, according to market research firm iSuppli. So Apple is on pace to sell about as many game-capable handhelds in a single year as Nintendo, the market’s current leader, has sold in the most recently reported 18 months. This suggests that Apple could be on the cusp of claiming the crown as the world’s market leader in handheld gaming,” Hesseldahl reports.

Full article here.


  1. I certainly hope this turns out to be true. I’d also like to see somebody/anybody come out with hardware gamepad controls for the iPhone/iPod Touch. I think that would seal the deal.

  2. Rubbish. I love my iPhone but to suggest that it is a serious gaming platform is absurd. 1500 games there may be, but about 1450 of those are awful shovelware – mainly remakes of 1980s titles with pretty background pictures (have a look at how many clones of Arkanoid and Chopper there are on the app store – it’s ridiculous). One or two games on par with DS games and a decent version of a decades-old title doesn’t change the show.

    Nintendo has sold millions of DSs purely to play games. Apple have sold iPods and iPhones that can play games as an addition to their core function – there’s a massive difference. Many of those iPods and iPhones will NEVER have a game on them, so to report it as if they’re selling purely for gaming is as wrong as saying Nokia is the world’s most important camera manufacturer, or Ford the most important manufacturer of stereos.

    Don’t get me wrong – decent games are a great thing to be able to buy for the iPhone, but they’re no better than the games on any other phone at the moment, and shouldn’t be classed as such.

  3. I have a lot of fun messing around with my touch. My favorite thing of all, though, is just showing people what it can do.

    I start with the music — coverflow always impresses.
    Then I show them the picture viewer — pinch always impresses.
    Then I show them a movie — the clarity always impresses.
    Then I show them the internet — picking out a site they frequent and zooming in with a pinch always impresses.
    Then I move on to google maps — again, the zooming by pinching always impresses.
    Then I show them google earth — they’re not only impressed but I think a couple of people may have shit themselves.
    Then I show them a video game — I wait until they ask how to control it and then show them, and it always impresses.

    The point is that this device does so much so well. There will always be someone out there claming they have found a better MP3 player, a better video player, a better way to do this or that. But first off, they’re probably wrong. Second, there is no device that can do all of this so well.

    After showing the touch to 10 people, I think 10 more will be sold. One for photos, one for music, one for games, one for pocket internet, etc., etc. THAT’s why these devices will be selling tens of millions. Games are just 10 percent of the equation.

  4. @UKOK
    Dude, seriously, your version of reality gets in the way of great headlines. Instead of chasing some silly ratiocination, you would do better to ponder – exactly how does it advance the great American politics etc.

  5. But you can’t discount that installed base completely.

    I haven’t played a hand-held game since the original GameBoy (c1989) and haven’t owned a console since my PS2 gave out four or five years ago.

    I read one article about a little iPhone/iPod focused company called ngmoco and I plunked down my 99¢ for Topple. Before you know it I bought Spore Origins and Enigmo. My wife is hooked on Trism and a few different Sudoku games.

    In a few months our household has gone from non-game-playing to spending more on video games than we do on music. That’s a big shift. Nintendo proved there was a market for the casual gamer. But isn’t the ultimate casual gamer platform one that isn’t strictly a game platform? If you have to go out of your way too buy a DS or a Wii, haven’t you already committed to gaming on some level?

    The iPhone is Apple’s trojan horse into a whole world of other markets, in the same way a PC wasn’t just a typewriter replacement.

  6. MidWest Mac,

    I agree entirely, having had a similar experience to you with my Touch.

    Another very positive aspect to this which I don’t think was mentioned is just how well the iPod Touch is selling.
    Of course Apple doesn’t break down its sales of iPods into categories, but the Touch is the best-selling iPod at Best Buy (by far), and also at Amazon.

    I believe the Touch is going to be huge and overtake the iPhone soon in sales numbers.

  7. “…but they’re no better than the games on any other phone at the moment”

    Is that right? So playing all these games is just as easy on the N95 or the Razr – because they are just like the iPhone/iTouch, right?

    You are a complete f**king idiot.

  8. First handhelds, then desktops/laptops. They’re getting into gaming through the backdoor. (hehehe)

    I’d like to see Apple come out with a SDK specifically for gaming.

  9. iPhone are great for certain games, like Texas Hold ‘Em and the like, but action or racing games are another story. I own both De Blob and Crash Bandicoot, and while I like them as games using the iPhone’s motion sensor to steer/direct the characters is quite annoying. As the both the iPhone and the Wii prove (I own one and Mario Kart), there are usability limitations to motion sensor gaming. Personally, I think and add-on gaming pack with buttons for the iPhone would sell likes hotcakes and make playing games like Crash Bandicoot way more fun/user friendly.

  10. @ @UKOK
    Controls are just one part of the equation. I would personally prefer a D-pad when playing most games. I think UKOK makes valid points. I have yet to see any games that are the same quality/production value of something like Zelda, God of War, or Final Fantasy. It’s going to be a while before major game developers start to put some serious effort into iphone/touch platform that rivals the DS and PSP. Until then, I don’t think Sony and Nintendo have a lot to worry about.

  11. We were outraged when some cell phone nut said iPod only had 32% of the market because virtually every free cell phone with a 2 year contract was a hand held music player.

    Let’s not get carried away here.

    The iPod touch is an iPod capable of playing hand held games.

    The iPhone is a phone apable of playing hand held games.

    They are better at it than all other digital music players and cell phones.

    That’s it.

  12. Some games for the iPhone are cute, but nowhere near the quality of Nintendo DS or PSP games… The iPhone is the king of casual gaming, but for anyone who appreciates real quality games with proper graphics/animation, gameplay, etc. there is no comparison with a Nintendo DS or PSP. There is no proper fighting game for the iPhone, there is no proper movie license game for the iPhone (except Star Wars), there is no proper Japanese blockbuster game adaptation for the iPhone, etc… it’s just not gonna happen.

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