Sorry, Nintendo, Sony: Phone games win more dollars

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Five years ago when you talked about portable or mobile gaming, it meant you were talking about Nintendo DS or PlayStation Portable. Today, mobile gaming means Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja and other extremely popular and free or very inexpensive smartphone games. IOS and Android have tripled their market share in games since 2009. But it’s not just number of individual game sales on iOS and Android devices that’s growing. The two platforms’ games are affecting the bottom lines of the biggest names in gaming.

On Wednesday, analytics company Flurry Mobile released statistics that show that games on the top two smartphone platforms combined, iOS and Android, are bringing in more U.S. revenue than traditional portable gaming leaders Sony and Nintendo for the first time ever. Games on Apple and Android mobile platforms will bring in $1.9 billion in U.S. sales this year, while Sony and Nintendo’s games will account for $1.4 billion.

It’s a drastic change that’s happened pretty rapidly in the space of just two years, as the chart below shows:

In 2009, portable gaming revenue in the U.S. was worth $2.7 billion. Sony and Nintendo, whose portable devices play games that can cost between $5 and $40, accounted for over 80 percent of mobile game revenue. Android and iOS games are usually free, 99 cents or, occasionally, a few dollars more. They made  pretty big dent in 2010 by grabbing 34 percent of the revenue of $2.5 billion, but the major damage was done this year. By the end of 2011, Flurry says mobile game revenue in the U.S. will equal $3.3 billion, and iOS and Android will account for 58 percent of that, compared to Sony’s 6 percent, and Nintendo’s 36 percent.

Sony and Nintendo’s sources of revenue are not limited to portable games since they still have console gaming. However they should probably be a little nervous: Apple and Google both have entered the living room space, with Apple TV and Google TV. And it’s probably not too long before each device gets a gaming strategy of some kind.

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