Tuesday, February 8, 2011
NGP Vs iPhone 5: How Apple Can Win
Against the iPhone 4 the NGP has clearly superior processing power. The sensor array is similar, though the NGP wins extra points for having a backside touchscreen. The dual analog controls and buttons of the NGP will bea a familiar and easy interface for gamers, clearly superior to the iPhone's reliance on its multitouch screen. True, some iPhone games have used the screen very cleverly (such as Infinity Blade), but any NGP game could duplicate any iPhone interface tricks. Compared to the current iPhone, the NGP is a far better gaming platform for traditional games. The iPhone's advantage right now lies in its vast library of free or inexpensive games. The NGP will likely never get such a huge array of games, not even if Sony were to make developing and publishing as easy on the NGP as it is on iOS. (Which would be a fine idea, actually, but it may be hard for Sony to go that far from their current business model.)
What about the iPhone 5? How will it compare to the NGP? All we know right now is rumor, but that's enough to give us some interesting comparisons. The iPhone 5 is rumored to use Apple's new A5 chip, which uses a dual core ARM A9 processor and a next-gen PowerVR GPU. This is rumored to have 4 or 5 times the graphics processing ability of the current iPhone, which is a mighty leap. It's still not enough to get it to the quad-core NGP level, though. I would expect the iPhone 5 to have about the same size as the current iPhone, which means the screen can't really be much larger. I'd expect the screen to remain unchanged from the current one. The iPhone 5 will probably have more RAM in its base configurations than the iPhone 4, but that shouldn't make a big difference to most games. I can't see any way the iPhone 5 would have any sort of external gaming control; Apple's designing this to be a generally useful device, not one specific to gaming.
So, the bottom line is that the NGP is well positioned to compete against the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 5 as well. It won't be until an iPhone 6 or 7 that the raw horsepower of the NGP is beaten by a phone.
That doesn't mean Apple can't compete against the NGP; it will do very well, thank you. Apple should try to encourage a few high-profile exclusive gaming titles for the iPhone. Apple has $60 billion in cash in the bank; they can afford to pick up any license or exclusive they want, and it would be a small part of their marketing budget.
Apple will continue to have a far bigger selection of games than the NGP, and it should continue to encourage that and market it heavily. Apple should push its games that don't appear on the NGP, and especially ones that provide a very different gaming experience. The NGP will likely have its initial games targeted at hardcore gamers; Apple should push its alternative gaming types.
Finally, Apple can push its utility as a non-gaming device, which the NGP will likely avoid. If the iPhone 5 could handle browser-based games it would be an amazing feature... but thanks to Flash, that seems unlikely.
Still, I expect that while the NGP will be a core gaming monster, Apple will notice no effect on their sales at all, with a little bit of effort.