For now, the dust has settled following Sony's back-to-back announcements, starting with the NGP and now this past weekend's Sony Ericsson Xperia Play unveiling. Regardless of how one might feel about the position Sony is attempting to secure in the portable gaming market, there are more ramifications that may not be present on the surface.
Portable gaming is no longer a two-console market. Five years ago it seemed Nintendo and Sony would battle to the death with the DS and PSP. Now, in a portable gaming market that has expanded to the world of "waiting room" casual games, the iOS and Android platforms have proven themselves worthy of bringing legitimate competition. Categorize these mobile OSes how you will, but they are directly affecting the sales of gaming-focused devices.
In an effort to bring some sort of familiar gaming experience to the core gamers who might be sick of sliding and tapping their way to victory, Sony felt the need to develop the first-ever PlayStation Certified mobile smartphone in the form of the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play--a device running Android 2.3. Though it may seem like a trivial detail of just another OS on a mobile device, Sony has chosen Google and Android as an ally in what's becoming a serious portable gaming turf war.
Out of the gate Apple may not be feeling the pressure, but one would imagine the lines of communication between it and the world's most successful portable console manufacturer might be opening up.
Try to imagine for a second all the glory that playing the entire library of NES games on a smartphone would provide. We're pretty sure Nintendo isn't entering the mobile phone market anytime soon, so if the company wanted to print more money by offering its vault up for bid, right about now seems to be the time to get that ball rolling.
But alas, Nintendo is a company that operates in mysterious ways. With the upcoming release of the 3DS we'd imagine the company has its hands full, but we'd be surprised if it didn't have some sort of an answer to the competition's recent venture. Shortcomings aside, when the Xperia Play does release this spring, Nintendo will then have a gaping hole in its arsenal.
A Nintendo partnership with Apple doesn't seem very practical, though, which is almost certainly why Sony chose Android. Think about it. Microsoft, an obvious competitor, wasn't an option and there was no way Apple would add buttons to its device just for Sony's sake. That said, we sure are paying closer attention to the budding Apple rumors that are starting to suggest some sort of slide-out functionality for an iPhone. Surely it's crossed the minds of Apple execs to make that slide-out an actual game pad, right?
It may not be this year, but soon there will come a time when a consumer asks, "How long will I have to carry around both a phone and a gaming system?"
What do you think is Nintendo's next move? Try and strike a deal with Apple or head to Android? Of course if Apple does in fact have an iPhone with gaming buttons up its sleeve, neither Nintendo nor Sony will have a choice in the matter anyway.