Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Friday, May 6, 2011

AppDroid Apocalypse, Nowish

The face of destruction.
With Google's I/O conference coming up next week, it's a good time to look at what's happening to Google TV and Apple TV. According to this report, Google TV 2.0 will be coming with support for other chips than Intel, Android 3.0, and a full Android Market unleashed. What's that all mean? A lower price tag, since ARM-based chips are much cheaper than Intel's, an easier interface, and better graphics.

Which all means that Google TV may have a chance... if Google has been smart enough to cut some deals allowing content from major broadcasters to be shown through Google TV, unlike the first version. Sorry, Google, but if people can't watch the TV they want to watch through Google TV, don't expect the unit to take off.

Meanwhile, all is quiet on the Apple front... too quiet. Rumors have been bubbling up about the massive data center Apple has constructed in North Carolina, which apparently will be used in some fashion for iTunes. But it's probably connected to Apple's recent purchase of iCloud, and the streaming music service, and the deals Apple's been cutting with major music labels. I suspect even more than that... other rumors have Apple eying Netflix's business.

It all makes sense to me. Apple could certainly turn Apple TV into another huge growth center if they can put the pieces all together. Imagine streaming video deals where you could use the Netflix model, which has proven so popular Netflix now has more subscribers than Comcast. If you focus on streaming content, which you can do if you have a massive data center, then you don't need large local storage... a few GB in an Apple TV unit would suffice, thus keeping the costs of the unit way down. Streaming video, streaming audio, purchases kept in the cloud instead of stored locally... Now you put an A5 chip in the Apple TV, and suddenly the graphics power is now better than a Wii, and closing in on Xbox 360.

Flip the switch and allow the full App Store to be there on Apple TV. Now you're seeing a $99 box that outdoes a Wii for gaming power, easy use of an iPhone or an iPad as a controller (easily outdoing the planned Wii 2 controller-with-a-screen we're hearing about), and thousands... no, hundreds of thousands of apps available. Most of them for free or a few dollars... tens of thousands of games, and thousands of other types of apps, and more created every day.

Yeah, this is all coming soon to your family room, once Apple gets all the pieces in place. The media deals are the hardest part. The data center is ready, the hardware is ready. The gaming industry? Not ready. Nintendo, Microsoft, Sony... this is the next enemy you have to fight. Apple has hurt your handheld business, Nintendo, now they are aiming right for your jugular in the family room. Sure, Nintendo has their new console planned... but it will be hundreds of dollars, not $99. And I see no sign that Nintendo is going to embrace the new app business model that has propelled the smartphone business to amazing growth in the last few years.

Just to make it all worse, Apple is on a one-year hardware cycle, where the hardware gets a significant power boost every year. Think the new Apple TV that will be coming, with an A5 chip, is too wimpy? Wait a year for a newer $99 box. Another year or two after that and it will be more powerful than Nintendo's new console.

I still think Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony have some amazing assets in this fight, and a chance to continue to hold significant market share in the future. But unless they start embracing the future sooner rather than later, they are going to see their market share diminish between the onslaught of Google and Apple. The handheld business is just about a lost cause now, though Sony seems to be fighting an intelligent rearguard action with the NGP. Next up is the console business... and I can see that being upended the same way the phone business was upended in a few short years, by Apple.

Developers, get ready to rumble...

No comments:

Post a Comment