It was all fun and games when Apple slung mud at Sony and Nintendo during last year’s iPod press event, but this year’s smear was just nasty, and not entirely accurate.
Before Steve Jobs introduced the new iPod Touch, he immediately started bragging about the device’s gaming dominance. He claimed that the iPod Touch accounts for half of the portable gaming market,
with more sales than and outsells Sony and Nintendo’s handhelds combined.
A claim like that needs a bunch of asterisks. As I pointed out a year ago, fighting a console war means manipulating statistics to your favor, and Apple is guilty once again.
Maybe the iPod Touch outsold its rivals recently — Apple sold 9.4 million iPods (all models, not just the Touch) last quarter, compared to 3.15 million Nintendo DS sales and 1.2 million PSP sales. But the Nintendo DS alone has shipped well over 100 million units , and the PSP topped 50 million sales in February 2009, compared to 120 million iOS devices shipped to date, by Jobs’ own admission. Lifetime iPod Touch sales are not even close to the PSP and Nintendo DS.
That’s not to say Apple doesn’t deserve to talk a big game. The company is hitting a stride now, with next week’s launch of Game Center, a set of cross-game social features that the Nintendo DS and PSP lack. Also, the new iPod Touch will have a gyroscope and the same A4 processor as the iPhone 4, for faster and more accurate gaming. Towards the start of today’s press event, Apple even brought out some people from Epic Games, who showed off a 3D sword-fighting RPG. Indeed, it’s getting harder for Sony and Nintendo to argue that iOS games are insubstantial distractions.
All of which makes me wish Apple didn’t distort reality when slamming Sony and Nintendo. The iPod Touch, and iOS, have momentum and forward-thinking features on their side. There’s no need to mislead the people who watched Apple’s press conference but weren’t inclined to fact-check Steve Jobs.