Talking tech since 2003

Admittedly, I’ve never been a huge gamer by any stretch of the imagination.  More recently I’ve poked my head into the world of Minecraft only to become bored with what others describe as an incredibly addicting game very quickly.  Sure, I have a Playstation 3 hooked up to the television in my living room, but in all honesty I use it more as a DVD and Blu-ray player more than I do anything else.  And with the recent attack that shed light on the security weaknesses in the Playstation Network (PSN), I highly doubt I’ll be getting into any gaming anytime soon.  Nonetheless, even though I myself don’t game I can definitely respect that video games make up a multi-billion dollar per year industry that designers and developers are cashing in on left and right.  And mobile gaming – no longer restricted to GameBoy’s or dedicated handheld gaming units – is one of the most popular gaming markets out there.

That said, research firm Nielsen has recently released statistics that show that in the last month mobile games made up the largest chunk of paid downloads on mobile smartphone handsets such as Apple’s iPhone and the various Android-powered devices on the mobile market.  Nielsen goes onto say that while about 56% of users downloaded social networking apps such as Twitter and Facebook clients, 64% of mobile users downloaded mobile games to their handsets.

When Apple unveiled the first generation iPhone in 2007, I remember how amazing it seemed that a single device could replace a phone and an iPod.  Of course that was in the days prior to third-party apps being available on the now legendary handset, but in recent years we have been seeing more and more emphasis on mobile apps rather than separate hardware devices.  So in a world where mobile phones are on the verge of replacing our wallets and keys, it makes perfect sense that our dedicated gaming handhelds will soon become antiques if they’re aren’t considered that already.

Mobile gaming, like all other apps, provide instant gratification to end-users.  When the latest game comes out, smartphone owners don’t have to run to their local electronics store and hope that they can get their hands on the latest cartridge or disk.  They simply tap an icon, make their selection, enter a password and agree to payment terms, and download.

In reality, though, mobile gaming doesn’t phase me in the least.  Society has proven time and time again that we will put and play games on any device that offers such functionality.  I mean, when I was in high-school I honestly think I spent more time playing games on our calculators than I did actually paying attention to lectures.  What surprises me is the fact that games outrank other app categories.

Think about it.  Smartphones are built to communicate and collaborate and to keep up with messages.  In essence, smartphones are meant to be smart and help us as  society maintain better communication and to help us get more done on the go.  So it really takes me back a bit to hear that even social networking clients don’t get as many downloads as games.

That said, though, I also realize that people only need to download the Facebook app once and only need to download the Twitter app once.  Games, on the other hand, make up a constantly growing category in which new titles are added on a much more frequent basis.

Perhaps most intriguing to me is the fact that iPhone users spend about 15 hours per month playing mobile games while Android users spend slightly over 9 hours on average and mobile users across all platforms only average a mere 8 hours per month.  Perhaps this helps to back up the perception that iPhone users are more willing to buy apps than users of other smartphones.

What do you think?  Let us know in the comments – once you have a second between rounds of Angry Birds, that is.


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