1. Yeah, iTunes is great. Too bad it doesn’t work in Brazil and many other countries. Even if you are willing to pay for MP3s they won’t allow Brazilian and other IPs to buy. So the globalization is quite relative and does not apply to the “global village”.

  2. I’m as big a proponent of digital distribution as anyone but this is a bit oversimplified.

    Physical sales of music, movies, books and games still persist in spite of all the obvious advantages of digital sales that you list. This is because there are circumstances where the physical item is more convenient:

    CDs – as a gift item, or with bonus materials (admittedly CDs are on the shakiest ground)
    DVDs – the above, plus convenient portability between devices/users, plus the value of ownership rather than rental.
    Books – the above, plus no need for an e-book reader.

    Downloading a game on the App Store is one thing, but downloading a multi-gigabyte game for PC or console is a different matter, especially for most of Europe and North America, outside of urban hubs, where very fast broadband with no usage caps or other gotchas isn’t available at all.

    You’ve not even considered discoverability. To achieve high volume sales on iTunes absolutely needs a publisher with the ability to advertise in the mainstream media. Games on the App Store do not benefit from impulse purchases on the high street, or a specialist media framework anything like as mature as that which has grown up around PC/console games.

    And then there is the price issue. There is undoubtedly a market for iPhone games as complex as high-end handheld and console games, but it is impossible for anyone to deliver them as the de facto $0.99 means they would never recoup their development costs.

  3. Gary

    “From the days of cave paintings through the Caxton printing press publishing has always needed a physical medium.”.

    Yes, and it still does- electrons, silicon, plastic, glass, metal- still physical.

  4. Devin

    “And if Apple produce a home console repeating the same business model as the App Store then the established players will be in big trouble.”

    I have two issues with that statement: first, all the established players are two steps ahead of Apple (Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo each have an established console, and an online marketplace for it).

    Second, since there aren’t any viable alternative cell phones that let you run (or write) aribtrary applications people are willing to pay (small amounts) for applications with the very low production values typical of PC freeware, and that doesn’t seem to be the case with consoles (OTOH, the consoles currently appear to be better at delivering indie games with mid-range production values, e.g. Braid, or Geometry Wars at $200k and $100k respectively).

    So, if Apple used the iTunes App store model in a console environment, creating a “moderated but mostly free-for-all” publication environment on a console where it wouldn’t provide anything better than download.com already provides for personal computers, I think that console-iTunes App Store marketplace wouldn’t be as big a draw for the Apple console as it is for the iPhone.

    You might feel the console vendors are missing a major opportunity by not providing a marketplace of the iTunes App store sort, but by enforcing high production values in their environments they may feel that they are maintaining the repuation of their console while also avoiding cannibalizing an attractive ROI for 3rd party developers by avoiding a race to the bottom with prices as has arguably happened in the iTunes App store as noted above by Robin, and echoed across the net.

    But, do people really want to play shareware quality games on their console system?

    We have a limited example of a free marketplace on a console: a soft-modded Wii can play Wii freeware (called “Homebrew applications” in that community), but freeware Wii applications (pirate wii games excluded) and content aren’t drawing customers to the Wii, mostly, I imagine, because Wii owners would rather use their Wii to play games with production values.

    Remembering the VHS vs BetaMax outcome, the quality of content may eventually drive people away from the iPhone, although it seems more likely that the quality of applications will improve with changes to the marketplace software, and possibly the establishment of other channels (e.g. credits sold in walmart).

    If Apple continues on the path to cellphone market saturation, then TV ads for specific, higher-priced, iphone apps would be realistic — perhaps they are realistic already, since there appear to be around as many iPhones as Playstation 3’s deployed in the US, and I occasionally see a PS3 game advert on TV.

Comments are closed.