Smartphones Consolidate to Three Platforms

Just last week Sony announced that they would be supporting Android applications on their new NGP (Next Generation Portable), the highly anticipated successor to the PSP. They also announced that they would be allowing content created for the NGP would be available on other Android devices, making the PSP games that developers have built available on a wide range of non-Sony devices. Sony is calling this feature the PlayStation Suite. Essentially it’s a store run by Sony for Android, where users can purchase PlayStation games for their tablets and smartphones. This is a bold new move for a company that in the past has stuck to their own monolithic platform over which they kept complete and total control.

Nokia also looks like they may be going with a similar plan. Rumors are everywhere declaring that Nokia will either be choosing Android or Windows Phone 7 to run on their devices. Nokia CEO, Stephen Elop was quoted saying “In addition to great device experiences we must build, capitalise and/or join a competitive ecosystem”, implying that they are looking to make a move. While it’s clear that Nokia hasn’t settled on Android yet, the very fact that they are looking for a switch indicates the industry is moving towards consolidating into three smartphone operating systems.

In other news, there seem to be reliable sources stating that RIM may be doing something similar with future Blackberry devices. If BlackBerry and Nokia run Android apps, and Sony devices do as well, this is very good news for mobile game developers. Why is that? Quite simply because there will be less platforms to port to.

Already a huge number of game developers are moving to Unity 3D, a game development platform that allows for easy deployment to iOS, Android, their own Web player, Nintendo Wii and xBox 360. Using Unity the developer needs to write one code base that will work across multiple platforms with relatively minor tweaks. The fact that Unity already supports two of the main smartphone platforms (iOS and Android) is a huge win for mobile game developers!

With Sony support for Android apps on PSP, and RIM and Nokia possibly doing the same, this just means more devices we as game developers can target. Of course with our platform, Brass Monkey, we also are going to have more consumers that will be able to turn their devices into controllers, and that’s definitely a good thing for us.

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