Apple takes on Nintendo and Sony with iPhone, iPod touch in handheld gaming

“Apple Inc.’s iPhone has shaken up the cellphone business. Its next target: Nintendo Co. and Sony Corp.,” Nick Wingfield and Christopher Lawton report for The Wall Street Journal. “The iPhone and its sister device the iPod touch, which feature big screens and powerful graphics, are emerging as serious competitors to Nintendo’s DS handheld and Sony’s PlayStation Portable.”

“Sega has sold more than 500,000 copies of a $10 game called “Super Monkey Ball” for the iPhone and iPod touch. The game, in which a player navigates a rolling orb around mazes by tilting the device, has reached a sales level that Sega says would be considered a hit for a DS or PSP game, which can cost up to $40,” Wingfield and Lawton report. “‘It feels to me like there’s a real threat to their [Sony’s and Nintendo’s] business from the iPhone,’ said Neil Young, a longtime executive at games publisher Electronic Arts Inc. Mr. Young quit EA this year to form a start-up, Ngmoco Inc., dedicated to publishing iPhone and iPod touch games.”

“‘I think the iPhone and iPod touch may emerge as really viable devices in the mobile games market this holiday season,’ said Steve Jobs, Apple’s chief executive and co-founder, in an interview,” Wingfield and Lawton report. “Of the more than 200 million copies of programs that have been downloaded through the App Store, Mr. Jobs said about a quarter were games.”

“The iPhone and iPod touch offer more powerful technology for games than standard cellphones and, in some respects, the Sony and Nintendo handhelds, say game makers,” Wingfield and Lawton report. “The Apple devices have big screens, beefy graphics processors and well-designed software tools for creating games. They also boast a feature called an accelerometer, which senses how a user is holding the device and gives consumers the ability to, say, steer in a racing game like Activision Blizzard Inc.’s Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D by tilting the gadget.”

Much more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Evan” for the heads up.]


  1. I love my Touch but I still prefer games on a Nintendo DS. In my opinion, the games on a handheld device like the DS are superior in quality, depth and replay value. Physical controls are also a plus for a majority of games.

  2. The iPod Touch and iPhone will have a huge impact on portable gaming for two simple reasons:

    1. Apple is going to sell boatloads of iPhones/Touches and boatloads of games are free on the app store.
    2. Like the article points out, anybody with a decent idea and programming chops can get their game to market. Apple has completely democratized the development-marketing-distribution-sales model.

    You also have to remember that this market is not even six months old! Of the games aren’t going to be as immersive as the PSP and DS at this point. Wait one more year and we’ll see. Also, what’s to prevent someone from making some kind of hardware controller?

  3. um, the hardware controllers are on the way. I believe Griffin and Belkin both have working prototypes. They are a layover just like the juice pack battery packs. So, not only is the Touch platform a boon for software developers, but now traditional accessories builders are finding new things too build. Hope someone makes goggle screen VTR headgear stuff. Would make my drive home more fun. Ha Ha.

  4. I actually think the PSP and DS will survive, but Apple will take a BIG chunk going forwards. However, Nokia and MicroSoft and anyone other hopefuls will be left in the dust in this arena:


    “At Nokia’s recent gaming summit in Rome, EA Mobile declared that they make twice as much money when they sell a game for the iPhone, as they do for the same game for N-Gage. Plus, news recently surfaced that N-Gage users can only transfer their games once to another mobile phone.”

  5. You guys need to quit dreaming…. They will never take over a huge chunk of market share from Nintendo or Sony. Will they sell out of hardware and games? Probably… Go look at and see how many DS and PSP units have been sold. Fact is Apple will only be for casual gaming unless they release some RPGs, FPS, platform game, or something unique. They aren’t as unique as Nintendo when it comes to gaming and never will be. This is just another medium for quick gaming. I dare Apple to develop a true gaming system and see how quick it fails.

  6. Meant to say will they sell a lot of hardware and games not sell out…. Anyways whoever is really into portable gaming will probably have a DS or PSP. They may also buy an ipod touch but not too many people that are really into portable gaming will just buy ipod touch.

  7. @Seth

    It’s a stealth gaming machine. See, no one buys it for the games. But, it in the end, those who buy it realize they don’t really need to drop more money on the other platforms (serious gamers aside — which should be an oxymoron methinks).

    If someone does indeed design a cradle device that holds the touch or iPhone to supply physical controls via the dock, watch out!

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