mobilegamingAt the Web 2.0 Summit earlier this week Morgan Stanley Internet analyst Mary Meeker presented on several aspects of Internet growth across various devices and services. While Meeker covered the growth of Netscape and AOL, she also covered game consoles and the combined growth of the iPhone and the iPod Touch.

It was an interesting comparison of Internet-related devices and services, yet the data on game consoles and the combined affect of the iPhone and iPod Touch highlighted the importance of social gaming. Even more notable is the fact that the iPhone and the iPod Touch together supersede the growth of popular gaming consoles including the Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS and the Sony PSP.

The iPhone has already been deemed an up and coming force when it comes to social gaming, with several game developers looking to create mobile versions of their game consoles. On the flip side, gaming consoles have increased their social capabilities over the years by supporting Internet connectivity, introducing an entire sub-economy for the monetization and enjoyment of games.

Granted, many of the games available on the iPhone are simpler than what we see on game consoles, with fewer options for graphics, effects and other aspects of game play. Yet the socialability of both the iPhone and gaming consoles create a common ground for the devices. There’s a great deal of potential for social gaming because of the platforms being built around mobile and established game consoles, and that goes for mobile gaming devices as well.

Apple is particularly at the forefront of this trend, as it was among the first to offer a comprehensive platform for third parties to develop and sell applications on its mobile device. The cult-following of Apple products helped the cause, especially when it came to the seemingly limiting factors of purchasing and using an iPhone (AT&T).

Nevertheless, one must wonder at future trends, and how social gaming will play out across all of these devices. From accessibility and downloadability to price structure and “word-of-mouth” marketing via social media outlets, there is a great deal that the mobile and gaming industry can learn from each other.

Current trends suggest a continued merging of the concepts representing both ends of the social gaming spectrum, with developers helping to drive the economy around this industry. Monetization as such has ushered in a series of new options for advertising and direct sales to consumers, as accessibility of game-related content increases.

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Kristen Nicole

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