Apple, Tech, and Gaming

Handheld Gaming in 2011: Apple vs. Sony and Nintendo

- 2011.01.31 - Tip Jar

Apple iPhone 4
Apple's iPhone 4

Mark my word, 2011 is going to be an incredible year for handheld gaming. Apple continues to innovate with every device running iOS, steadily gaining market share with the ever-popular App Store. Within the last four years, Apple has surged forward as a real contender in the gaming market with releases of the iPhone, iPod touch, and the sensational iPad.

With over 120 million iOS devices sold, it's fair to say that Apple has become the X-factor in the handheld market.

Apple iPod touch
Apple's iPod touch

Should Nintendo and Sony be worried yet? Right now, I have to say no, but they should definitely be on high alert, putting their best efforts forward to retain their respective market shares.

Right now, each manufacturer attracts a different segment of the market, rather than taking each other head-on in an all out war, but that could change if Apple starts marketing an iOS device geared specifically towards the core gamer. Currently, the most popular iPhone/iPod touch games are more of the casual - yet highly addictive - fare (Angry Birds, Bejeweled 2, Flight Control, etc.), and certainly have taken that market by storm.

Now for the competition.

Original Sony PSP
Sony PSP Go
Original PSP (top) compared to the PSP Go (bottom).

Sony's PSP goes for the hard-core gamer, delivering stunning graphics and connectivity to the PS3 similar to how you may connect an iPod or iOS device to your Mac and/or iTunes library. By employing Sony's proprietary optical media with Universal Media Disc (UMD), Sony's PSP has been able to deliver a wide variety of amazing games and full feature films on the go that won't tie up space on your Memory Stick and can be traded in at a resale shop when you want to try something else.

The PSP Go, on the other hand, still has the same hardware, but functions more like an iPod, since it eliminates UMD and uses only downloaded content from the PSN to store on its built-in 16 GB of flash memory or Memory Stick. The PSP Go has been very unpopular with gamers, since, while the physical media was eliminated, game prices and films were still essentially priced the same as their UMD counterparts.

These things aside, the overall experience from both the PSP and PSP Go is the same and very typical to what you might expect from a full-fledged home console (very comparable to PS2 gaming and near DVD quality video)!

Sony's forthcoming Next Generation Portable.

The successor to the PSP that was announced on January 27 was dubbed "Next Generation Portable" (NGP) and offers an entirely different experience. The NGP has four times the screen resolution of the PSP (480 x 272), a slightly larger and much brighter 5" OLED screen, and amazing connection options.

IGN had a live blog of the coverage that began from Tokyo at 1 a.m. EST as the console was unveiled covered by several of their editors. If you wonder what the NGP looks like, go right to the source and check out the US Sony Computer Entertainment page. Optical media and UMD backward compatibility was nixed in favor of using a new flash memory format, which should drastically speed up loading times. Not a bad idea - speedy load times while retaining physical media. It's a win-win for the consumer and the used games market.

Nintendo 3DS
Nintendo's 3DS is due on March 27.

Nintendo, on the other hand, woos its customers through adding new concepts and innovation to the gaming experience itself. The Nintendo DS introduced the first touchscreen on a major handheld game console. The Wii (although not a handheld) delivered the best motion-sensing gaming experience of its time, and now the 3DS, due out March 27, year will provide gamers with an amazing 3D gaming experience in their hands without the use of 3D glasses! Nintendo's 3DS page describes the features of this soon-to-be-available console.

Which handheld will come out on top during the next generation handheld console battle due to commence this year? Does Apple have a trick or two up its sleeve to sway gamers to a secretly developed iOS handheld gaming device designed from the ground up, geared specifically for core gamers using Apple's App Store and iTunes? What's in store for the next iPod touch, iPad, and iPhone?

Things are certainly heating up.

All in all, each device from Apple, Nintendo, and Sony has something different to offer and will attract a specific audience, but regardless of your choice, you can count on some amazing games and capabilities never seen before on handheld gaming consoles. The table has been set and is sure to excite many gamers!

It's just the beginning of the year, and I'm already looking forward to this holiday season. LEM

Join us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or Google+, or subscribe to our RSS news feed

Dan Bashur lives in central Ohio with his wife and children. He uses various PowerPC G3 and G4 Macs running Tiger and Leopard. Besides finding new uses for Macs and other tech, Dan enjoys writing (fantasy novel series in the works), is an avid gamer, and a member of Sony's Gamer Advisor Panel. You can read more of Dan Bashur's work on, where he contributes regular articles about the PSP, classic gaming, and ways you can use Sony gaming hardware with your Mac.

Today's Links

Recent Content

About LEM Support Usage Privacy Contact

Follow Low End Mac on Twitter
Join Low End Mac on Facebook

Favorite Sites

Cult of Mac
Shrine of Apple
The Mac Observer
Accelerate Your Mac
The Vintage Mac Museum
Deal Brothers
Mac Driver Museum
JAG's House
System 6 Heaven
System 7 Today
the pickle's Low-End Mac FAQ

The iTunes Store
PC Connection Express
Macgo Blu-ray Player
Parallels Desktop for Mac

Low End Mac's store


Open Link