Opinion: Why Apple's iPhone won't beat Sony's PSP and Nintendo's DS at their own game!

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Jon_smal.gifJonathan Weinberg writes…

Mobile phones will never, ever, be portable games consoles. Nokia tried it with their N-Gage device, and they are trying it again with N-Gage software on their normal handsets. Gizmondo (while not strictly a phone) tried it – and failed miserably.

Now Steve Jobs has set his sights on trying to battle Sony and Nintendo for a slice of the portable gaming industry by opening up the iPhone to top-notch titles.

It’s a nice soundbite, it’s a good offering for Apple consumers, but it will still only ever be a mobile phone that you can play games on – rather than a games console.

And they are, and always shall be, two totally different propositions and never the twain should meet.

Sony is said to be working on a PSP phone, which is possibly why Apple has decided to get in early just in case. Last night Jobs revealed partnerships with the likes of Sega and Electronic Arts to make games for the iPhone and iPod Touch.

Anything that makes gaming more mainstream is to be applauded and gets my vote as a tech journo. But it can never match the dizzy heights of enjoyment from a fully-fledged machine like the PSP or DS. No matter how hard it seems to be trying.

For a start, it’ll surely zap the battery life of the systems with memory-hungry games sucking juice from the device like an elephant drinking water through a large straw.

Super Monkey Ball on the iPhone sounds interesting, taking advantage of the touchscreen, but I doubt it can ape the success it has enjoyed on the wider gaming scale.

I do have high hopes for EA’s Spore. It is going to be one of the biggest console and PC hits of 2008 when it finally gets released. Created by Sims god Will Wright, you have to create alien beings from tiny little molecules that slowly develop into real creatures who fly spaceships and go off and colonise galaxies.

But the previews I’ve seen of it demonstrate just how much power it needs to run, and I’d imagine the iPhone version will just be some sort of aside from the main missions, maybe just a tool to create and grow your aliens while on the move to upload to the PC later.

The iPhone is still a niche mobile. The addition of games will make it a niche mobile with gaming functions. I’m not convinced this is the way to increase its reach into the wider community. 3G would certainly be a start though and an even bigger memory, as we all well know.

Mobile phone titles themselves are still a small part of the gamer’s currency and Apple’s move might raise their profile, but I really can’t see it lighting the bluetouch paper to fire up greater success for the firm or the industry as a whole.

Besides, who wants the blooming thing ringing with a call, just when you’re about to post your highest score ever!

What do you think of Apple’s announcement? Post a comment below…

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Jonathan Weinberg

One thought on “Opinion: Why Apple's iPhone won't beat Sony's PSP and Nintendo's DS at their own game!

  • “Even if you cannot see the tech to support it today.”

    The iPhone IS the tech that can support it today. I haven’t seen the conference at which they showed the games playing through the device, but the press that did actually see it said that is was simply stunning. You only have to look at reports to know that the iPhone is a powerful device.

    It isnt perfect for all games simply because it lacks buttons, but the tech inside the thing easily makes up for alot of the problems the game makers will face!

    I for one can see the next iPhone/iPod Touch being the next huge craze, even more so as prices drop and more people can afford to op into the ‘Apple’ sector of beatifully crafted metal and glass products, rather than Sony and Nintendos cheap plastic tat!!

    Sony and Nintendo have only remained so popular because nobody has offered a better solution, and Apple are doing that now!

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