Some truly remarkable numbers came out of Apple’s quarterly earnings call a few days ago. First of all, the House of Steve sold 6.9 million iPhone 3Gs globally in the 3rd quarter; that’s well over the 6.1 million iPhone 2Gs they sold in the year before the 3G came out. It also means Apple beat RIM–the makers of the popular BlackBerry smartphones–at its own game, to the tune of about 800,000 units. Some analysts believe that the iPhone platform is on the verge of shooting past Windows Mobile, too! In terms of revenue, the only two handset manufacterers still ahead of Apple are Nokia and Samsung… and Samsung isn’t that far ahead. Apple’s left long-established players like Sony Ericsson, LG, and Motorola in the rear-view mirror.
What does all of this mean for iPhone gaming? Well, the platform is even healthier than I thought it would be after doing some back-of the envelope calculations several months ago. It’s now clear that Apple’s original benchmark of 10 million iPhone 3Gs sold in 2008 is going to be short of the real total, which should be much closer to 20 million. This sales strength is translating directly into platform growth; the App Store is going to clear the 200 million App barrier sometime today. The first 100 million took about 60 days, the second 100 million only 42. How long will the 300 million mark take? Another month?
We’re not going to say that this is as good as it gets. For instance, Apple desperately needs to reevaluate the App Store’s promotion and merchandising model, which is faltering under the weight of enormous developer participation, and it must work to assure publishers that the iPhone platform can sustain big-license games. Still, it’s much, much better than we could have possibly hoped!