2009: The App Store Starts Paying More Attention to Female Mobile Gamers

Though the mobile industry has successfully marketed specific phone features towards women, for example, the Samsung Egeo, the mobile app industry continues to lag behind the rapidly growing market of female mobile gamers. Studies show that there are currently more female mobile gamers than male mobile gamers – a point the mobile app industry began adapting to later this year. However, despite some changes, mobile app markets, like the App Store, have not adequately scaled themselves to meet the changing demographic profile of mobile gamers.

In March 2009, one third of the games available in the App Store were action themed and catered mainly towards male consumers. By July 2009, the number of games on offer had doubled. Puzzle games had become the largest genre, accounting for 16.4 per cent of the App Store’s games, with action and arcade titles trailing behind with 11.2 per cent and 11.1 percent respectively.

As the number of apps in the App Store soared past the 100,000 mark, mobile app developers slightly shifted their target markets creating more gender-neutral hit games such as Wheel of Fortune and Trism. However, the shift has been slow, and the App Store continues to overlook the market potential of female mobile gamers.

Canadian and US women rank Apple as their favorite technology brand and ranked the iPhone and iPod Touchnyt2 as their second favorite portable gaming device, after the Nintendo DS. Apple has a stronghold on the mindshare of the female consumer, particularly in the mobile marketspace, but it has yet to completely take advantage of this mobile game market opportunity. Not all female groups are quick to pick up the iPhone though. A survey of US mobile gamers indicates that there are more female mobile gamers than male mobile gamers between the ages of twenty-five and fifty-four.

If the App Store targeted these particular female mobile gamer demographics, they could solidify their place as the leading mobile games market. The App Store’s success relies on their ability to play to growing market demands and how they counter the flack they’ve received from mobile app developers recently. Female mobile gamers are already playing, maybe to the surprise of the developers. The more the mobile app market comes to realize this, the sooner the mobile app industry is in for another growth spurt.

3D Imaging Technologies Generate Higher Margins for Entertainment Industry

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The growing consumption of digital content has propelled a new economic trend in the entertainment industry. The average Joe living in a developed economy will spend the majority of the day in front of the computer, television, or other digital display. Increase in accessibility and proliferation of digital media has created strong consumer demands for quality entertainment, which in turn, has skyrocketed production costs for all media content from games to movies. Large production costs put a pressure on profitability, but one major area of innovation that is generating better margins for the entertainment industry is 3D imaging.

This new wave of 3D imaging technology adds another dimension of value to future digital media because consumers are willing to pay more for an enhanced experience, yet the technology curbs production costs for manufacturers and publishers.

156 million people have smartphones, and 184 million laptops were shipped in 2008. Consumers’ digital media obsession now drives the innovative development of software and hardware that create increasingly immersive entertainment and digital media experiences.

The large amount of investment required to offer more engaging 2D entertainment experiences is putting profitability under pressure. The total production cost for Grand Theft Auto IV was $100,000,000 – currently the biggest budget spent on any video game. The majority of production costs for 2D games were allocated by manufactures and publishers for creating more sophisticated graphic interfaces and higher resolution content. However, 3D imaging works on relatively simple technologies and do not require as extensive of production budgets, provided that the display screen’s image refresh rate is high.

For example, NVIDIA, in partnership with Samsung, now offers the GeForce 3D vision system for gaming applications. The system requires a minimum of 120Hz and shutter glasses in order to reconstruct the illusion of real 3D images, which are created by playing two different images, each representing the two perspectives of the same object to each eye. Though normal 2D screens project frames six times slower than 3D films, the GeForce system plays the two-scene views, called “right eye” and left eye,” three times every 1/24 of a second. The result is 3D flicker-free images created by the eye’s natural persistence of vision.

These innovations in imaging technology create augmented realities that link images and real objects, and add the perception of interaction for viewers, and consumers are willing to pay more to experience this novel form of digital media. For instance, IMAX movies are priced five dollars above the average price of a standard 2D theater admission.

Companies like amBX UK Ltd, a technology licensing business, are creating elaborate, “sensory surround” entertainment with modest technologies that enable content creators to add real world effects using light, color, rumble and air flow, through licensed amBX devices. These innovative but relatively inexpensive additions to digital media revalues entertainment experiences and allows producers to maintain lower production cost while driving higher revenues.

Consumers are demanding increasingly immersive entertainment. What will the introduction of 3D imaging mean for gaming? Will these emerging technologies create new experiences so gamers can feel like they are walking through the battle fields of Modern Warfare 2? As companies such as amBX and NVIDIA continue to develop hardware that brings 3D gaming to the living room, the future for console gaming looks bright as long as publishers continue to put premium prices on the technologies. If this trend continues, the gaming industry will have no problem retaining its position as the highest grossing entertainment industry in the world.