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Spillikins є153. Gaming World: How Big Kids Change the World

Last week I was busy with the show in Las Vegas and you had a chance to read detailed accounts of events. We also mentioned key trends of CES 2012, which will define this year. I do not want to take up the Spillikins with show related issues, so read about my ongoing thoughts.

Contents:

  1. Games for Adults or How the Industry is Changing
  2. System Downgrade
  3. Government Cellular Surveillance
  4. Bada To Hand Down Skins To Tizen
  5. Try&Buy: Nokia 800

Games for Adults or How the Industry is Changing

When I was sitting in the airport in LA a woman in her mid forties was charging her iPad playing a racing game at the same time. Abrupt movements of the tablet irritated the power cord of iPad, which signalled accordingly until the gamer put it back. This person was interesting to observe, because she was totally immersed in the game. Race turns made her move in the chair as if the outside world did not exist.

How many adult gamers do we have now in the world? I think even people from the industry or researchers cannot be sure about the numbers. This woman looked like a kidult, though her inexpensive clothing underlined her pragmatic approach to life. In that corner of the terminal she was looking for a charger, moving between iPhone and iPad all the time. During that hour she had several minutes, when she did not play. Moreover, both devices had different games on offer. iPad was used for racing, while the phone provided a more calm entertainment.

She happened to be from Taiwan and worked for the company manufacturing holders for tablet and she was trying out one of them for gaming. She did it for pleasure and not only for work though. She is only one of the tribe as in numerous airports I always see people with eyes fixed on phones and tablets. On public transportation or on the plane you can actually peep in and see what people are doing. As a rule they read books, web pages, saved files or play games.

In the January issue of Wired was published a timely article about the future of the gaming industry. Games are changing, because people are not staying the same. In the world of technology we see winds of fashion similar to those in the sphere of apparel or music. We do not like to do the same for years, eat the same food or wear the same clothes. Diversity is required by people and we usually do get it and technology is not an exception. At the moment playing games on desktops is becoming less widespread than before. The gaming world is ruled by consoles, phones and tablets with the last two having the biggest growth potential. It is not only influenced by their proliferation and hardware performance available only to desktops before. It is secondary despite the importance for the success of many games. The key is that owners of these devices do not consider themselves to be gamers. People come across games by chance, so they do not care about specialized periodicals or opinions of the gaming community. They do not belong to this world and have different lifestyle and viewpoints. There is nothing negative about it. We just have to embrace the diversity. The crisis in the gaming industry is caused not by the absence of high quality games or loss of interest in games as such, but by the rapid changes in types of games and our perceptions. It is the crisis in companies, which were the first to enter the market and they still follow the tried and trusted strategy of the past.

Compare it with the mobile phones. Until 2007 models were judged upon how they allowed to make calls and send messages. We paid attention to the ergonomics and battery life. Then we moved away from phones to hybrid devices similar to small computers rather than phones. Users care not about the sound quality, but the screen size for watching movies or browsing web pages. In handsets reviews performance is highlighted at the expense of body size and ergonomics.

The gaming world changes slower, but the tendency is similar. Personal computers come to the background and we value laptops, netbooks, tablets and smartphones more. You cannot play traditional computer games without the computer, while laptops give different experience. Sales of game consoles show that the PC is not being replaced. People do not see themselves as gamers despite the fact they played computer games on PCs well. This instability actually makes the world interesting to live in.

Appealing to the masses is crucial for success. Popular devices capable of playing games are phones and tablets. The sales of tablets have long since surpassed the same parameter for gaming consoles and game developers feel where the money is. The same applies to phones, but the ratio of people playing games on these devices is lower than that of tablets and PCs, but in absolute numbers the situation is completely reversed.

The gaming industry will not die, but old-fashioned companies may go if they do not move to new devices. The market changes yet again, though in future we will turn again to home PCs, which will combine a variety of features. They will be labelled superPC to differentiate from the previous type of gadgets. The story will repeat itself with desktop games regaining their supremacy now lost to mobile versions. It is the issue of fashion based on the volatility of the human nature. We are not as conservative as some believe, which makes me optimistic about new names and developments coming our way.

Which gadget do you use to play and consider as a gaming device? Are you a gamer? How many hours a day you devote to computer games? If it is less than 2 think about your lifestyle. Playing games is useful and healthy. I do not mean computer games only. Board and card games go as well.

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System Downgrade

There is nothing new in my observation, but by disconnecting the mobile phone or ignoring the Internet we move to another world, which is not as bad as we might think. Throughout this week I almost never checked my Twitter account, did not read the forum and went online only occasionally. I had to work a lot and had not much time for anything else, but several times I had a bit of rest. I visited the Grand Canyon, saw the Hoover Dam and travelled around Las Vegas. Social networks were barely graced by my presence.

It was not a conscious decision when I failed to buy the local SIM card, left mine at home, and felt overwhelmed in general. Did I lose anything in terms of life quality? Surely not! The only difference was an extra hour and a half a day for other things. Should we forget the online world and change the pattern of our life? I think not, but we need a similar break on a regular basis to understand if is more necessary for us to spend hours in Twitter or have a walk in the city, exchange messages with pen pals or meet your real friends? These are obvious things, which are worth reminding nonetheless.

Many of my friends cannot live without Twitter. One person spends almost all time there and writes about everything she does from watching movies to going to the parties. At the party she sits in the corner and shares impressions on the phone. Sometimes it is easier to check Twitter than talk to her. When the virtual world ousts the real one from our life we have to stop and change the situation. Enough is enough.

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Government Cellular Surveillance

Some conspiracy theories about governments being able to access any phone have received some proof. Unknown hackers released documents acquired from the Indian Ministry of Defense. Among the documents they found a curious brochure for the government members called 'Tactical Network for Cellular Surveillance' written by colonel Ishwar Singh. It is unknown what department the colonel belongs to but supposedly it is an intelligence service.

The document specifies that the RINOA software was used in order to read the correspondence of U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC). The exploit they used is traditionally created by mobile phone manufacturers so government agencies can access data on phones. The document also mentions that this access was granted by RIM, Apple and Nokia in exchange for permission to operate on the Indian market. This agreement is an official convention between the Indian government and the manufacturers.

None of the manufacturers has yet commented on the situation as well as USCC who promised to investigate the issue. I believe discussions will take place behind closed doors and their results will never be public. RIM has had problems with Indian officials Ц it did not want to give the Indian government an access to the encoding system but they seem to have found a compromise after all.

I suppose it is the same story in Russia and the government can access any data on your phone whether you want it or not. An indirect proof of this is the unofficial governmental ban on Blackberries certified for Russia for state controlled companies and officials. It is curious but there is no such ban for Apple iPhone. However, as far as I know a number of state controlled companies use Blackberries and even buy them through tender process. All these data does not make a lot of sense to me.

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Bada To Hand Down Skins To Tizen

The Bada platform often mistakenly called an operating system is about to hit the bucket. Samsung acquired the MeeGo project from Nokia and together with Intel the Korean giant is planning on producing phones on this Linux OS. The name has been changed to Tizen but it was unclear what would Samsung contribute to the project. At CES 2012 Tae-Jin Kang, Senior Vice President of SamsungТs Contents Planning Team, mentioned in one of the interviews that the plans were to integrate Bada into the Tizen project.

All Tizen phones will receive the Bada UI (MeeGo's UI was a Nokia's contribution Ц from now on it will be used on the Meltemi project). Considering that Bada was created as an overlay for any OS and the dev team has got all the tools for app development the company should not have any problems with making apps for Tizen.

I am aware of only one Tizen phone to be released in September 2012. it is possible that Samsung will announce another one by the end of the year but it is very premature to forecast the success of Tizen.

Moreover, Bada will not disappear completely because Bada phones are important for Samsung Ц they were developed independently and are both very profitable and decrease the company's dependance on Android. However, Bada is not crucial for Samsung Ц its most important role is to demonstrate presence on the smartphone market. Bada is unlikely to corner the market one day Ц it will continue to play its role in the dedicated market niches.

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Try&Buy: Nokia 800

In 2012 we will observe the fall of formerly a great company surrounded with a lot of pomp and a share of cynicism from the Nokia management. There is plenty of cynicism around the company already: instead of sales figures they give us pre-order numbers or the number of handsets distributed within marketing campaigns. But reality will hit them eventually.

The first piece of news that might interest you is the unprecedented marketing campaign in the UK. You can take a Nokia 800 for a 40 day ride for free and return it if you don't like it Ц all expenses are paid by Nokia. This fantastic generosity might turn into great losses. Naturally, the number of handsets participating is limited but it certainly costs a lot of money. Moreover, some employees of Nokia's rivaling companies became the first to use the offer Ц for them it is a test drive of Nokia handsets paid by Nokia.

The promo site - www.lovemekeepme.com

More news that should make you feel sure about Nokia's future. The company is willing to pay up to $30 for ads for every Nokia 800 (besides the marketing expenses). The quantity of ads is overwhelming unlike the sales figures. In Q4 2011 the company began shipments of the first two WP7 phones to channels and the result was mere 1 million handsets (according to the latest Morgan Stanley report but it can be wrong as they simply do not possess the required information as IDC, GFK or some other analysts). Anyway, it is a failure even when compared to the failure of Nokia N8. Nokia is proving the law of all sinking companies Ц each flagship becomes twice less popular than the previous one. This law is empirical of course but it seems to work.

And another piece of news to make you feel reassured about Nokia and its plans for the future but, of course, only a PR trick is the purchase of Norwegian Samrterphone AS by Nokia. The deal was closed back in late 2010 but was announced only in 2012. Why? To stir public interest for Nokia and... that's it.

Smarterphone is working on an operating system for inexpensive phones mainly for touchscreens (but not limited to). Nokia abandoned hope to compete with Korean touchscreens who are already in the $50-100 range. The only reasonable response for Nokia would be cheap Symbian smartphones but the production costs of these phones are too high. Another solution would be the development of the Touch&Type series on the S40 platform but it has proven to be unpopular and the production costs are also high.

Nokia's inability to make a cheap touchscreen phone supported with an adequate platform lead the company to Smarterphone. The latter does not produce phones but in 2011 Kyocera C4700 was released featuring their platform onboard Ц C4700 is basic touchscreen phone and nothing special but with a very attractive price tag (full specs here).

This phone designed for Latin America did not make a bang and it looks very ordinary. However, I am curious about what Nokia can transform it into. It is an interesting issues and I don't think that Nokia is planning on increasing the number of OS and inegrate Smarterphone into S40. I think it is a replacement for S30 that would create a greater number of inexpensive touchscreen phones for the mass market (the $50-100 range). However, Nokia is unlikely to integrate this OS into their own phone series so in the end we get an even bigger OS fragmentation in Nokia phones. This solution will be used for phones that will never be customizable and have very limited functionality but also very cheap. This move was necessary because Nokia's developers failed adapt S40 for this purpose.

P.S. Have a nice week and don't forget to visit our website Ц we will have a bunch of very interesting stories for you. So long.

Do you want to talk about this? Please, go to our Forum and let your opinion be known to the author and everybody else.

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Related links

Spillikins є150. Blackberry Runs Out of Ideas

Spillikins є151. Fanaticism as the reflection of personality

Spillikins є152. Social Aspects of Mobile Technologies: Quiet Revolution

Eldar Murtazin (eldar@mobile-review.com)
Twitter    Livejournal
Translated by Maxim Antonenko (maxantonenko@ukr.net), Robert Mugattarov (mugattarov@gmail.com)

Published — 18 January 2012

Have something to add?! Write us... eldar@mobile-review.com

 

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