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The iPhone OS Is Becoming A Serious Mobile Gaming Platform

There was a lot of scoffing being directed at Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, when he tried to position the iPhone and iPod touch as reliable gaming platforms.  When the third-party apps were announced in 2008, he showed off a bunch of different types of games for the platform, and most people laughed them off.  Well the numbers have come out showing which platforms enjoy what market share in the mobile category for 2009 … we don’t hear any one laughing any more.

Steve Jobs told The Wall Street Journal in Nov. 2008, “I think the iPhone and iPod touch may emerge as really viable devices in the mobile games market this holiday season.”  People chuckled, video game enthusiasts were completely lost thinking that the devices only having one physical button would make it a joke and even analysts kind of laughed it off.  They were partially right, though, and by the end of 2008, Apple had only five percent of the mobile game market to its name, putting a distant third behind Nintendo and Sony, the holders of first and second place respectively.

Now that the data for 2009 has been released by Flurry, not only are the mobile platforms going to have to take notice, but the industry as a whole.

This first chart shows what percentage of the mobile gaming market Apple has captured.  It has now catapulted into second place, and while it is doubtful it will ever catch Nintendo, with the addition of the iPad you can expect to see more of its 70% market share erode away.

iphonegamesbyrevenue

What is even more frightening is when you look at the overall stats for the industry.  If the iPhone is broken out as its own platform, separate from mobile, it accounted for five percent of all revenue from video games in 2009.

videogamesbyrevenue

With Apple getting ready to launch another device, things look to only get bigger for the company in the video game field.

You almost have to wonder why people laughed this off when it was first announced.  My feeling is because it was seen as “casual gaming”, but then you have to remember that Nintendo’s Wii is built around casual gaming and it has been a huge success.  So why didn’t people see the potential success of the iPhone as a gaming platform?  My sinking suspicion is once again: bloggers forgot that we aren’t the mainstream.

While I personally have no burning desire to game on a screen that size, I also didn’t immediately write it off because I realized casual gamers far outnumber people such as myself.  No matter how much we may turn our noses up at the casual gamer, they will always outnumber those of us with stacks of video games in our houses.

With the iPad ready to hit, and iPhones continuing to sell like hot cakes, don’t be too surprised if you see that five percent of all gaming revenue go up at least one or two more points for 2010.

The lesson here?  Never scoff at Steve Jobs.

What say you?  What is iPhone gaming so successful?


Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...

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