If you’ve been wanting an iPhone, live in the United States, and loathe AT&T, your prayers have finally been answered. Verizon announced this morning that starting on February 10, the iPhone 4 will be available to their wireless customers. But just how does this affect the mobile gaming landscape?
Analysts are projecting that Verizon could account for half of all iPhone sales by the end of the year, putting roughly 9 to 12 million handsets in the hands of subscribers. Considering that AT&T sold 11.1 million iPhones in the first 9 months of 2010, the number of active iPhone users is about to see a massive jump.
“The iPhone coming to Verizon is a highly anticipated event by the mobile gaming community,” says Peter Relan, chairman of OpenFeint. “Adding 13 million more potential gamers on the iPhone is going to be a watershed moment for mobile gaming. I wouldn’t be surprised if the US mobile gaming industry doubles in revenue this year because of this deal.”
If Peter’s right, the countless predictions about Android surpassing iPhone in terms of app sales this year could be rendered moot. Inversely, one can’t help but wonder if Apple has waited until they truly started to feel the squeeze from a competitor like Google before opening up the iPhone to additional carriers. Is this why we’ve been waiting so long for an AT&T alternative? So Steve Jobs could try and squash the competition with a single massive influx of new iPhone owners?
Regardless of the why, there’s no questioning the inevitable end result. By increasing their user base, Apple is also increasing the audience for apps, which in turn will further entice developers to create games for the iOS platform. If you thought 2010 was a big year for games, just wait and see what gets created once another 13 million potential gamers start throwing their money around.
That many new subscribers may also result in a tremendous amount of repackaging on the App Store. Making older apps visible to new subscribers has long been a challenge for App Store developers. To combat this, some folks have taken it upon themselves to create an App Hall of Fame to showcase the best that iOS devices have to offer. Apple, possibly inspired by this, has begun to showcase older but notable apps in a similar manner. Still – the one way developers can really get the audience’s attention back is to roll up their sleeves and do the work themselves. Don’t be surprised if you see bigger updates, bigger price breaks, and iOS gaming ads popping up in more and more places – all in an effort to get older games noticed again and back on the App Store’s “What’s Hot” list.
For those of you considering jumping on the Verizon bandwagon, their version of the iPhone 4 is more or less identical to the AT&T build except for two small tweaks. First, and most obvious, is that the hardware inside is designed to run on Verizon’s CDMA network rather than AT&T’s GSM network. Secondly, Verizon’s iPhone 4 will have the added bonus of being able to act as a mobile hotspot for up to five Wi-Fi devices. If you happen to be hanging out with some iPod Touch carrying friends, or merely want to get your netbook or iPad online on the go, this should provide a quick and easy solution.
The iPhone 4 will be available from Verizon on a two year contract, with the 16GB model going for $199 and the 32GB version going for $299. Current Verizon customers can place pre-orders starting February 3.