Touch Arcade has an article up that gets into the politics and corporate infighting that is affecting us all. See: Onlive is Dead – What does this mean for Game Streaming on iOS? Carter Dotson is the author. I think Carter has made several mistakes in his (?) analysis. But, overall however we get there the result is the same.
My primary take away is Carter is saying that Sony is attempting to break Apple’s choke hold on game streaming for mobile devices. He could be right about that. The idea that if something is not available for iOS via the Apple Store, it loses a huge market share is true. But, I am not sure you can base the hypothesis Apple has a stranglehold on the gaming market.
Let’s look at some numbers to see if it is even possible. According to IDC (reference) Smartphone OS Market share in Q4 2014 was; 76.6% Android, 19.7% iOS, 2.8% Windows Phone, the rest 0.9%.
A fifth of a market is significant. But, I can’t see company that only controls 20% of a market having a stranglehold on it. Carter’s idea that Online couldn’t make it because the Android market couldn’t support it, that doesn’t make sense to me. If 76% of a market cannot support your product or service, some things wrong.
A newer article in PC World quoting IDG dated February 2015 puts the market share numbers at: Android 81.5% and iOS 14.8. Android is eating iOS.
But, maybe those numbers skew to iOS’ favor in the narrower gaming market? Venture Beat provides these interesting bits of information (reference): 40% of all app downloads are games. 75% of apps purchased are games. In Korea 94% of Google Play’s revenue is from game sales. And most interesting is the bit that while iOS makes up 14 to 18% of the market, iOS sales make up 50±% of sales dollars.
They explain that dollar share difference this way: Android is larger in Asian markets where consumers are likely to have lower incomes and less likely to have a credit card. So, while the Asians are spending less total dollars they are making way more purchases.
While it is hard to run the numbers, I can make a good case for being able to sell in the Asian market and make 25¢ and thereby produce more total dollars than by selling into the American/European market and making 50¢. In other words, making it on volume.
So, I don’t see the stranglehold.
Carter assumes Net Neutrality in the USA will speed up arrival of gigabyte network speeds and give us better game streaming. I disagree based on the history of how similar laws and regulations have worked in the past. But, only time will answer that question for most people. Those that don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it… Without the arrival of faster Internet, the demand for game streaming tech will remain high and difficult to achieve. Onlive was in a good place with good tech, just bad timing.
Carter sees the possibility of game streaming as being on the dismal side as it is restricted by Apple. I think I have shown the numbers over the past 2 or 3 years show Android making huge gains. While selling iOS games is currently more profitable for developers, that is changing. Android essentially owns the market. I doubt Apple has a stranglehold now and they certainly won’t in the future.
The free market is working and businesses are being competitive and innovating. Whether Apple does or doesn’t have a stranglehold the market will change. Google, Sony, Microsoft, and probably some people as obscure as Palmer Lucky and Steve Jobs once were will move things forward.
But, for now the loss of Online’s SL Go is painful to several hundred SL users. Exactly how it affects Linden Lab and the Next Generation Platform is unknown. In general we, SL users, are all affected by the loss of Online and not having SL available on mobile devices. It means fewer users, friends, customers, designers, publicity… It is subtle and indirect, but it is there.