With all the wild speculation on hardware specs, features, and contract costs floating around the web on the rumored tablet device, I thought it might be a good time to bring back another highly speculated rumor from last year. On that pertained to subject matter that did actually happen last year but never was implemented. Those discussions were based around the idea of a “Premium” application pricing structure.
Exactly one year ago, the entire iPhone blogosphere as well as commercial websites were predicting that Apple was set to release a “Premium” iPhone and iTouch section on the appstore. This was done in an effort to lure larger developers to create full featured games more in line with the Nintendo DS and Sony PlayStation Portable, and in turn give developers a larger profit margin on sales. I have been assured those pricing discussions did happen, but eventually those plans fell through. I was told this by some of the larger developers I deal with on a constant basis here at appVersity.com
Richard Teversham, previously the senior director of business, insights, and strategy for the European division of Xbox was hired and brought into the iPhone side of the business with speculation that he was to help position the iPhone and iTouch devices into a commercially viable gaming system. However, if you think about it- the iPhone specifications, design and vision was already created by that time. So….what exactly was he brought in for?
Apple’s gaming ambitions have been a case of Dr. Jekyll and M Hyde. It seems that every Apple event for the last few years would see Mr. Jobs bringing out some developers who praised the newest version of OSX and committed that they and other developers would be bringing the world of gaming to an Apple near you. Months, even years would pass with maybe three or four titles from last’s years PC hits would be released and the cycle would repeat itself.
Fast forward a few years to the iPhones launch when no one expected that the iPhone and iTouch would establish itself as a major factor in hand held gaming. It was literally a crap shoot seeing that mobile gaming had not proven to be a run away commercial success previously.
In retrospect, Apple’s smartest move was to not restrict the pricing scheme of applications and opened the doors to anyone with a hundred dollar bill and some time on their hands. Today the appstore is teaming with thousands of great applications along with hundreds of thousands of “shovel-ware” titles as well.
This alone has allowed the pricing structure of applications to flux. No games have released for over $9.99 and most offer huge discounts for the first few weeks trying to garner the attention and placement of their application in a crowded appstore and amongst the hardcore impulse consumers. With the daily deluge of applications consumers are the benefactor as developers are forced to reduce prices to nothing in order to generate sales.
Fast forward to today where we are on the verge of a possible revolutionary moment for Apple. The introduction of a new multimedia device that could potentially alter the way we think about entertainment once again. We are hearing rumors that Steve Job’s himself has been personally involved with the new device and don’t forget Richard Teversham. He brings immense talent and knowledge- and I am sure he has played a role in helping design and position this new product to entice an ever larger portion of the multi billion dollar gaming community to drink Apple’s Kool-Aid.
Without knowing the final specifications of the new device, it’s fairly easy to guess that it will have a much faster processor (and most likely multiple processors) as well as additional memory and a larger screen resolution making it a real threat to traditional consoles today. Oh, and did I mention it’s portable?
Sure developers can and most likely will initially upscale current applications to take advantage of some of these features. However, give them some time and developers are going to be creating much deeper and feature complete games for a larger screen- alleviating many of the problems iPhone games face today.
Gamers will have larger surface aiding in better controlled finger movements, additional spacing for buttons, menus, and finger gestures. This will open up different types of games that can be made and ported from the PC while allowing them not to suffer control issues from the substitution of a mouse with finger movements.
Developers will need to spend additional time and resources to create more immersive gaming experiences over the more casual experiences on the iPhone and iTouch. Surely, these same developers would expect higher returns for their investment which leads us back to last year.
No one is saying it, and we won’t be sure until we have the final products in our hands, but if I was a betting man I would bet my house on the fact that the new applications designed specifically for the new device will have a different pricing structure that we are used to currently.
Quick and more casual gaming will remain on the iPhone, iTouch, and tablet in it’s current pricing structure with more expensive, and console like gaming being sold at higher price points. Yes this will fracture the install base some, but we currently see that Apple isn’t afraid to force upgrades on users. How consumers will react to that as well as higher application prices is the biggest question.
Apple was able to get it’s foot in the door with the iPhone and iTouch. Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft are well aware of how the little boy has grown up so quickly. With the release of the new tablet device, I expect them to not only open that door, but bust it right off the hinges and claim the biggest table for themselves.