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Could phones become 'viable threat' to gaming devices?

Shipments of game-capable mobile phones are expected to grow about 11 percent this year, as shipments of consoles and handhelds slow, according to iSuppli.

Angry Birds helps lead the gaming business.
Angry Birds is helping lead the gaming business. Clickgamer Technologies

The gaming industry is getting some much needed help from mobile phones, market research firm iSuppli found in a recent study.

According to iSuppli, shipments of game-capable mobile phones will be up 11.4 percent by the end of 2010 to 1.27 billion, compared to 1.14 billion shipments in 2009. By the end of 2010, it expects console shipments to top 52.3 million units, up just 0.2 percent compared to 2009's 52.1 million units. Handhelds are expected to see a decline in 2010, tallying 38.9 million shipments by the end of 2010, compared to 39.9 million in 2009.

"The formidable lead enjoyed by cell phones capable of gaming will continue in the years to come with no hint of decline, and their near-universal presence gives them the potential to become a viable competitive threat to dedicated gaming platforms, primarily handheld devices," Pamela Tufegdzic, consumer electronics analyst at iSuppli, said in a statement Monday.

iSuppli said that devices like Apple's iPhone have helped spur the growth of gaming on mobile phones. Currently, the top nine out of 10 most popular paid applications in Apple's App Store are games. They're led by Angry Birds, Fragger, and Doodle Jump.

News of the iPhone and other mobile phones gaining gaming market share is nothing new. In March, Flurry Analytics found that between 2008 and 2009, Apple's iOS platform captured significant mobile-market share from Nintendo's DS and Sony's PSP. In 2008, the mobile OS owned just 5 percent of the mobile gaming market. In 2009, that figure jumped to 19 percent. Given the continued growth of the platform, including other mobile platforms like Google's Android OS, it's not a stretch to say that smartphones could make an even greater impact on that market in 2010.