3DS and PSP2 respectively, newcomers like Apple, with its increasingly ubiquitous iOS offerings, Google, with its Android OS, and even Microsoft, with its recently launched Windows Phone 7 platform, offer a compelling (and, for now, more technologically powerful) alternative. And, if data from market research firm Interpret is to be believed, this alternative is waxing, while PSP and DS use wanes.
"The proliferation of highly multifunctional smartphones and messaging phones is a very real threat to the dominance by the DS and PSP of the handheld gaming market," Interpret's Courtney Johnson, manager of Research and Analysis, said in a press release announcing the firm's upcoming report. "Devices which satisfy a variety of entertainment and utility are fast outstripping single-function devices as consumer favorites." To that end, Interpret's report –\-- which was based on a U.S. survey of 9,000 people -- found that 44 percent of the mobile gaming market, comprised of phone, DS, and PSP platforms, "plays games on phones." That's a 53.2-percent increase over last year, "while the proportion of those who play on the DS or PSP has fallen by 13 percent."
Perhaps the most damning statistic included in the tease for the report is this: 27.2 percent of respondents said that they played games on their phones only, though they already own a DS or PSP. Joining the chorus of pundits sounding the death knell for traditional "standalone" handheld gaming platforms is Michael Pachter, who used his Pach Attack pulpit last week to say, "I think the ubiquity of the iPod Touch is cutting into the handheld market. I think the PSP was dead on arrival and I think the PSP2 is going to be dead on arrival."
The unknown quantity in much of this debate: the as-yet-unannounced PlayStation Phone. Is Sony hedging its bets on the PSP2 platform by extending the life cycle of the PSP1 platform, converting it from a standalone device into an Android-compatible service? Place your bets in the comments below.