Should Sony and Nintendo Fear the iPhone?


EA founder Trip Hawkins thinks that the success of the iPhone and iPod Touch as gaming devices is making the competition start to sweat.

You know what? I’m going to come right out and say it: I don’t get the iPhone. Sure, it can do some cool things; I’m not going to deny that. But at the end of the day, it’s just a phone – a horribly overpriced phone at that. I will never understand the slavish devotion that the iCult has to all things Apple.

However, even if I personally don’t get the fuss, that doesn’t mean that the iPhone hasn’t been establishing itself as a legitimate gaming platform lately – because it has. After Metal Gear Solid Touch, Hideo Kojima expressed a desire to get “crazy” with the iPhone (that’s Hideo Kojima crazy, which is pretty nuts). We’ve seen games like Assassin’s Creed and Wolfenstein 3D released for the device, Audiosurf is rumored to be on its way, and games are just tearing up the iPhone App Store left and right.

One of the developers who has found success with the iPhone is Digital Chocolate, helmed and founded by Trip Hawkins – the man who founded a little studio called Electronic Arts back in ’82. Speaking to VentureBeat, Hawkins said that Digital Chocolate’s iPhone successes took him by surprise:

“The iPhone for us was a spectacularly pleasant surprise. We had no idea it was going to be as good for us as it turned out to be … It’s by far our most effective platform. We make as much money with these games on one device as we do putting a game on 100 different cell phone platforms.”

Hawkins thinks that the iPhone frenzy should be making fellow handheld makers Sony and Nintendo rather nervous about this surprising and unexpected new competitor: “Between the iPod Touch and the iPhone, I think the platform is freaking out Sony and Nintendo. Apple has sold 30 million units so far and it has created tremendous awareness. It has taken ground all over the world. But it has only penetrated one half of one percent of its total market.”

I don’t think anyone would disagree with Hawkins’ claims that the iPhone has shown itself to be a legitimate mobile games platform, but I’m not quite sure that Sony and Nintendo have any reason to panic just yet. After all, with the iPhone’s hefty price tag (and focus on other features), it’s hard to imagine anyone buying it just to play games. However, it might be enough to make iPhone owners who might have otherwise purchased a DS or PSP change their minds.


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