As reported by Techspot, analytics company Flurry has released figures showing that the mobile gaming portion of the portable market pie chart is growing. Specifically, the percentage of software sales market share that can be attributed to iOS and Android grew from 19% in 2009 (at which point Android was taking its initial steps in to paid apps) to 34% in 2010; meanwhile, the PSP's marketshare shrunk from 11% to 9% and the DS's from 70% to 57%.
While on the face of it these numbers show Apple and Google eating in to Sony and Nintendo's lunch, the results encourage a closer analysis. The first question to ask is how big of a drop is this, percentage wise? Well, the PSP dropping from 11% to 9% means it's lost about 20% of it's 2009 stake in the market, while the DS dropping from 70% to 57% means it's lost about 25% of its 2009 market share. Let's compare that to each devices change from 2009 to 2010 in total software sales: According to VGChartz, DS software sales decreased only 16%, while PSP software sales actually increased 10%. Clearly, a loss in market share does not equal an equivalent loss in sales. It is possible that the DS and PSP would have posted better results had iOS and Android never been invented, but that can only ever be speculation. We could say with equal authority (which is none, as we are not omniscient) that the aging PSP and DS were both boosted because mobile gaming reinvigorated the market. It's all speculation, which brings us to the next point.
Is this just Android's market settling in? As we reported earlier this year, sales of Android-based phones increased 888% from 2009 to 2010. Not only must that number make Google very happy, but it also represents the entry of a major new player in 2010. Perhaps the jump in the smartphone share of the handheld gaming market simply represents Android coming on-line.
Similarly, Nintendo's DS is an aging system and as systems age their sales tend to decrease. This alone might explain the system's drop in software sales, but add on to that the fact that Nintendo announced the 3DS three months in to 2010 as a direct successor to the DS; it is not a stretch to surmise that this may have made a dent in the DS's 2010 performance. Time will tell if, after the announcement of the NGP, the PSP's sales dip in 2011.
Regardness, if the PSP's software sales increased, the decrease in DS sales was less than its loss of marketshare, and iOS and Android sales increased...are they really competing for the same money? Are we really talking about a scenario like the SNES and Genesis competing for the same hearts and minds, or is this more like the Wii opening up a whole new market? Can we really compare, cheap, quick, and fun 99 cent games with traditional handheld games? Are the same people buying them? Even if they are the same people, are they deciding not to purchase a new handheld game because they just spent $5 on some games from the App Store? In short, do iOS, Android, Nintendo and Sony even belong in the same pie chart? We tend to separate handheld sales and console sales because they are seen as different markets, but we don't separate App sales and handheld game sales...why? Because both are played on a dedicated screen in our hands? The next few years will be key in discovering whether these companies are truly competing with each other, or whether the phenomenon of smartphones and tablets - which, let us not forget, is still relatively new - has just opened up a new market.
[image via: Pie Heaven]