MediaFile

What Apple’s “iTablet” could mean for Asia

Apple Inc. Chief Executive Steve Jobs walks through the crowd after a special event in San Francisco September 9, 2009. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

global_post_logoJonathan Adams serves as a GlobalPost correspondent, where this article first appeared.

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Here comes, maybe, Apple’s “iTablet.” Or “iSlate.” Or “iWhatever.”

Apple’s so-called “Jesus Tablet” has been described as the ultimate gadget: A netbook, e-book reader, movie player and games platform all in one. It’s going to revolutionize publishing, and education. No mention yet on solving Middle East peace, but surely it’s only a matter of time.

Now, Apple fans are in a frenzy over a press event Wednesday at which the tablet may finally — maybe — be revealed to all. And yes, all the jokes about Moses bringing the tablet down from the mountain have already been made.

GlobalPost doesn’t have any solid information to add since our last dispatch on this topic, nearly a year ago. But here in Asia, where many of Apple’s mos popular products are manufactured, there’s been plenty of unconfirmed hearsay.

Sony’s PlayStation chief: We’ll get iPod game dabblers

So what happens when the Apple suggests your handheld game device is sub-par? Out of touch? Passe? ‘Dems fighting words, right?******That’s what I asked Sony’s PlayStation boss Jack Tretton during a recent interview. His response? Keep talking, Apple — you’re only creating more future PlayStation users.******A little background: Earlier this month, Apple’s Phil Schiller said this about Sony’s PlayStations Portable (PSP) and the Nintendo DS, which have together sold more than 150 million units around the globe:***

When these things came out they seemed so cool. But once you play a game on the iPod touch, they don’t really stack up anymore. They don’t have this amazing multi-touch user interface. The game are kind of expensive. they don’t even have anything like the Apps Store to find great games and titles. And they certainly don’t deliver a media experience like the iPod that is built into the iPod touch.******But worst is the buying experience. Having to go to the store and trying to find a hot new title is not a lot of fun.

***Not long after, Apple CEO Steve Jobs piled on to the New York Times, saying that the new lower price for the iPod Touch would draw in gamers.******Tretton, whose full title is CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment of America, counterpunched:***

The gaming heritage and the home of gaming is PlayStation. Dabbling in gaming is nice and ‘thank you’ for getting people interested in gaming — because they are going to end up with us.******Its sort of like saying, I got my drivers license and my first car was a beat up Subaru, but if you are ultimately going to be on the track, you are going to be driving a race car, and not something that’s basic transportation. So if you are going to be seriously interested in gaming you are going to end up a PlayStation consumer.

***Tough talk between two consumer electronics giants.******Personally, I have played games on all three devices — but not the same games — so I can’t testify to an apples-to-apples comparison. But I’ll say this: Poker and Tetris on the iPod Touch? Fun. Super Mario Bros on the DS? Cool. FIFA Soccer on the PSP? Wicked.******(Photo: Sony’s Jack Tretten at E3; Reuters)

EA brings “Madden” to iPhone

Electronic Arts is launching its most venerable video game franchise, “Madden Football,” onto the hottest new gaming platform going, Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch.

The game, whose origins date back 20 years, has been a cash cow for EA over the years, and the company is now seeking to extend that popularity into the fast-growing smartphone market. EA showed a demo of the game at Apple’s media event on Wednesday.

“We’re really happy with the quality of the game, making it fun and easy to pick up and play and we think we’ve created the most authentic and realistic football experience in the market today,” said Adam Sussman, vice president of worldwide publishing for EA Mobile.

Beatles tie-in with Apple event? How about the Stones?

Apple confirmed what the technology world has been expecting for weeks: a September 9 media extravaganza. The company has been holding September events for years to refresh its iPod line and unveil new models ahead of the holiday season.

And while new iPods are also expected to be on tap this year, Apple threw in a little curveball to get the company’s fans and followers talking.

Sept. 9 is also the launch day for “The Beatles: Rock Band” video games, as well as the date that EMI will release the digitally remastered versions of their original song catalog. Given that supposed coincidence, some were speculating that a deal to finally bring the Beatles’ songs to iTunes was brewing. The Beatles may be the most famous rock band ever, but they have not yet made their songs available on Apple’s hugely popular online store.

Get ready for Facebook’s billion$

Ka-Ching! 

Silicon Valley veteran Mark Andreessen, who sits on Facebook’s board, says the company will rack up billions of dollars in revenue in five years.

It’s more important at this stage for social sites like Facebook and Twitter to beef up their base of user, rather than worry too much about filling their money bags.

Privately held Facebook — which counts venture capitalist Peter Thiel, Accel Partners, Microsoft Corp <MSFT.O> and Russian Internet investment firm Digital Sky Technologies among its investors — has never disclosed its revenue except to say it expects 70 percent growth this year.

Apple’s App Store seen growing at rapid clip

Apple’s App Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch is growing at a pace of 38 percent a month, with 200 new applications being added everyday, according to new data by analytics company Mobclix.

Mobclix expects the App Store to be a $1 billion marketplace over the next 2 years, and Mobclix co-founder Krishna Subramanian said that estimate is conservative.

By the group’s latest tally, there are 31,000 applications in the store — above Apple’s official count of 25,000 — with the largest category being games, more than 7,000 of them. Some more interesting stats:

iPhone Apps mean money for game publisher ngmoco

Given the popularity of downloadable apps for Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch, many folks — namely some prominent Silicon Valley venture capitalists — are confident there’s plenty of money to be made from app developers as well.******Ngmoco, which makes games exclusively for the iPhone and the iPod Touch, said Monday it has closed $10 million in Series B financing led by Norwest Venture Partners. The company’s previous investors –- Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Maples Investments — also participated in the funding. Ngmoco received $5.6 million in its first round of financing.******Ngmoco — which stands for “next generation mobile company” — was born last year along with Apple’s App Store, and the company’s profile has risen in tandem with the store’s popularity. Users have downloaded more than 800 million apps in total and the store now features more than 25,000 offerings.******Ngmoco’s games have been installed more than 7 million times. The company currently has seven titles –- its most popular is the $9.95 “Rolando Orlando” -– and 12 in development.******Neil Young, ngmoco’s chief executive and one of its co-founders, said in an interview that he was surprised by the “voracious” appetite for games on the iPhone and iPod Touch. Although he wouldn’t rule out making games for other platforms, he said the devices provide a unique opportunity for game makers.***

It’s just a blend of amazing capability with this awesome usability. And its clearly those two things that are enabling this new type of usage patterns both in terms of how people are consuming games and how much they’re consuming. And also the ease at which they’re able to get them. Until there are any other platforms that come close to that I think we’ll certainly remain focused on these devices.

******Young, who left game publishing giant Electronics Arts to launch ngmoco, declined to disclose a revenue figure for the company, which has 26 employees.******The App Store is estimated to offer some 6,000 games. Many see the iPhone and iPod Touch as legitimate competitors to Nintendo’s DS and Sony’s PSP handheld gaming consoles, and that battle should play out over the coming months and years. IPhone games are expected to be much on display at this week’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.******Keep an eye on:***

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