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Random thoughts and news in the world of video games.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Apple sells more than 3 million new iPads during release weekend, and only they can get away with it

                                          AP Exchange photo

Apple's a rich company, and they can thank their customers for that. Apple recently announced they sold more than 3 million new iPads during its release this past weekend.

I find it amazing over and over again. Only Apple can release an updated piece of hardware annually and not take flak for it. The video gaming console market could not survive this way, even if hardware changes were every two to three years. Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft would lose millions of dollars, and the fan base wouldn't put up with it. Plus, big-time developers who create games over the course of a year or two would be up in arms.

Every time Apple releases a new iPad or new iPhone, it always brings up the same tired debate: Is Apple hurting Nintendo and Sony, especially when it comes to handhelds? So far no for Nintendo. The 3DS has sold more than 15 million units worldwide since its launch last year, which is ahead of the first-year pace of the DS. The DS has sold more than 150 million units.

Sony's PS Vita, on the other hand, seems to be struggling. In Japan, sales are in the basement, hitting around 10,000 per week. As of Feb. 28, the system has sold 1.2 million units worldwide.

Some will say "Wait. This new iPad has already outsold the PS Vita and 20 percent of the 3DS in the just three days! How can Nintendo and Sony not be in trouble?" Well, look at whom the devices are made for. The 3DS and PS Vita are dedicated handheld gaming machines. That market is much smaller than the iPad, which is an all-in-one device. Yes, the iPad can play games, but that is a small part of the package which includes browsing the Internet, Facebook, Twitter, reading eBooks, watching movies and so much more. It's aimed at replacing laptops and PCs, so of course it's going to sell more. It's the same with iPhones. Everyone needs a cell phone (pretty much anyway), but not everyone needs a gaming handheld.

I'm not ignorant. I know Apple's success in terms of gaming shouldn't be overlooked. It has changed the industry, since a lot of people have shown they want to play the cheaper games like Angry Birds for hours on end. But I still laugh away the idea that Nintendo and Sony should throw in the towel on the portable industry. This might shock people but I'll say it anyway: Their products can co-exist. Nintendo's proving that with the 3DS. If Sony wants to improve PS Vita sales, do what Nintendo did: Get games people buy these systems for. If they want to get drastic, drop the price some.

I am curious on one statistic about the new Ipad: How many people bought one had owned a previous version? We all make fun of fanatics buying every Apple product out there, but I'd like to see how much growth there is in the tablet market. Especially when the "newer iPad" releases next year. You know it's coming.

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