Game Changer - iPhone Revolution (Part 1)

8/16/2012 3:26:39 PM

The iPhone has made a monolithic impact on gaming. So much so, that in the gaming world, we can now speak in terms of before iP and after iP.

The iPhone turned five years old on June 29th of this year. Since that time, the iPhone has left an indelible mark on technology. It has enabled users to organise their lives in ways considered unimaginable before its launch, and there hasn't been another device that has changed social and technological life in such a small amount of time.

Description: iPhone revolution

iPhone revolution

When the original iPhone was first introduced, it operated on a brand new system called iOS that included a pre­installed set of multimedia and productivity applications. The platform was originally designed as a closed system but independent developers started creating their own apps soon after launch for unlocked or "jailbroken" iPhones.

Apple was initially reluctant open up the system to third-party developers, but they bowed to pressure in 2008, allowing outside developers to officially join in the party. Had this not occurred, who knows what would have become of the iPhone. The smartphone has become a cultural phenomenon sparking Copy Cat designs and setting a precedent for the way we now live our lives.

Since its launch, the iPhone has seen two major redesigns and three incremental updates. What makes particularly remarkable is the fact that over it' s initial five year period, Apple's iPhone has increased tremendously and is now worth more ($22.69bn) than Microsoft's ($17.41bn), as detailed in the info graphic titled "The iPhone Turns 5: A Success Story".

As shown in the graph, the iPhone has generated $143bn in revenue since June 2007, more than Apple's total revenue for the 12 years preceding the device. The impact has literally been a game changer, not only socially and technologically, but also in terms of the gaming industry.

Description: the iPhone has generated $143bn in revenue since June 2007

the iPhone has generated $143bn in revenue since June 2007

It's easy to look back on the naysayers now and laugh at their reactions to the original iPhone. Both Steve Ballmer and Steve Sprague of Microsoft scoffed while Bloomberg's Matthew Lynn and market watcher John Dvorak both made less than stellar predictions for the phone's success.

But to suggest we all knew it would be a landmark is to undermine the audacious risk Apple had taken to get into the phone business in the first place. Until development began in 2005, Apple had never entered the phone market, a market that at the time of the announcement in 2007, was over saturated by companies competing on thin margins.

The company had no experience working with wireless carriers, the phone itself ran on AT&T's very slow EDGE network, there was no 3G capability, no way to replace the battery and no keyboard, something that at the time was considered essential. The cost was quite prohibitive as well.

All of these things were important at the time yet Steve Jobs and Apple broke down these barriers and basic assumptions to redefine the way technology companies approached new hardware. As it turns out, an all in one device that could take care of talk, email and media was all we ever needed; we just didn't know it until Steve Jobs told us.

What is interesting to note here is that there is no mention of games. Apple had never been interested in making games and the Mac OSX is still largely ignored by gamers and publishers. But in turning phones into tiny, sleek computers that made calls, sent email, played music and other media, they indirectly created a brand new platform that would change everything.

Before the iPhone, no console or desktop advancement had revolutionized gaming in the same manner as Apple's new device. Moving from the 8-bit era to the 16-bit era of the classic Super Nintendo console was a giant leap and the SNES deserves its place in history. But nothing has changed when we play, how we play, what we play and what we are prepared to pay as much as the iPhone.

Description: Physical retail sales of computer and video games are currently on their lowest level since 2006

Physical retail sales of computer and video games are currently on their lowest level since 2006

When current generation consoles were released, the iPhone did not yet exist and it was a full 12 months after its launch before the App Store came online. Since then, 365 million iOS devices , 218 million of those being iPhones. Naturally, competitors have followed suit, with Google recently announcing 400 million Android activations of their own.

As the numbers continue to climb, game developers celebrate milestones including total downloads reaching the billions such as in the case of Angry Birds developer, Rovio. Paid downloads account for over twenty-five percent of those 1 billion downloads, making Angry Birds one of the biggest sellers across all mobile devices.

For a company such as Rovio, the iPhone, the iOS eco-system and Apple's "cool factor" was the catalyst for a relatively simple physics, puzzle game with some cartoon birds to take over the world and become one of the highest grossing games in App Store history, not to mention one of the most popular games ever. Not bad for an independent company that was started in 2003 by three students from Helsinki University of Technology, all of whom were looking to enter a mobile gaming competition.

Description: the iOS eco-system and Apple's "cool factor" was the catalyst for a relatively simple physics

the iOS eco-system and Apple's "cool factor" was the catalyst for a relatively simple physics

Rovio is just one example of the many doors the iPhone has opened. Developers young, old, professional or amateur, are able to create games for iOS thanks to the availability of Apple's development kit and the numerous resources aimed at assisting anyone with a predilection for basic coding and programming.

As a result, indie developers have popped up in every corner of the globe thanks to the relatively low cost of development and the accessibility the iPhone provides. This creates a competitive sub-industry in a gaming world dominated by large corporate publishers with a sprawling tree of studios and developers attached.

But the overriding reason these independent developers and publishers are thriving is because the iPhone created the demand. Never before has gaming become such a "normal" part of life. With the advent of the iPhone, everyone is a gamer in one form or another.

When celebrities like Alec Baldwin are thrown off a plane for refusing to stop playing Words with Friends while standing at the gate, or fashionistas like Gossip Girl star Leighton Meester admit to being addicted to Doodle Jump, then you know gaming has crossed some significant boundaries.

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