The Issue of Fragmentation on Mobile Games Platforms

The Issue of Fragmentation on Mobile Games Platforms

Tan Keng Tiong, Ge Tianyi, Rajkumar Sopra, Ravi S. Sharma
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-147-4.ch009
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The rapid growth of mobile device usage in recent years has given rise to the problem of fragmentation in mobile platforms. In this chapter, we address the background of the rise in mobile devices and their platforms. We then look at the issue of fragmentation in mobile platforms and the effects of it on the parties in the mobile services ecosystem. We conclude by discounting the solutions that the industry has implemented to resolve this issue of fragmentation.
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In present times, mobile devices have become the fastest growing consumer products in terms of adoption. There have been more phones shipped each year than automobiles and personal computers combined (Mahatanankoon et al. 2005; Clarke & Madison, 2001). It is thus not surprising that the market value of the mobile game, which is only 0.46 billion Euros in 2003, had soared to 1.65 billion euros in 2006 (Mobile, 2006). In addition, the mobile game market is expected to grow to 9 billion euros by 2011(Jordan, 2007).

Mobile games have quite a few advantages compared to PC and console games. Mobile games are ubiquitous and portable; allowing people to game anywhere, anytime. In addition, they can serve as a practical alternative to PC-based games (Okazaki et al., 2007). While mobile games could be played with mobile phones or other hand-held gaming devices, this chapter focuses solely on games that are being played on mobile phones. The fast growing mobile game industry has a prominent role in the area of mobile technology development. Games, similar to the experiences with Internet shows, are among the few network data services which consumers are willing to pay for (Nokia, 2004). Since mobile phones are being rapidly embedded with software platforms, which are capable of supporting gaming, many handset manufacturers, operators and game developers have come to recognize the opportunities in mobile games.

In the current market, there are 5 significant mobile platforms - Android, iPhone OS, J2ME, Symbian OS and Windows Mobile - all of which make up close to 100% of the market. These popular platforms offer extensive middleware support, to help developers create rich mobile applications rapidly. This includes allowing a developer access to different platform resources, such as the underlying operating system, middleware components, useful libraries and tools, etc. An example is the Linux-based open-source platform that Android provides to third-party developers which allows them to create and port their applications, while at the same time making use of services like search, Gmail and Google Maps. Similarly, Nokia S60, iPhone OS offer their own application development environments. Most platforms also provide applications with interfaces that allow them to access an abundance of information on the mobile handset. Information, such as user contact, calendar, geographic location, as well as functionalities like making calls, sending SMSs, using the camera, and so on. By combining application logic with these platform interfaces, richer applications may be created. For example, using the location information available on the mobile phone, one can design a number of location-based applications.

However these mobile platforms are not interoperable as each differs in their interfaces and service access points. This is due to the portability of mobile applications across multiple platforms. This fragmentation of mobile platforms has become a problem that cannot be ignored (Fasli & Michalakopoulos, 2008) particularly in the mobile gaming area with its massively parallel community. In the remainder of this chapter, we discuss how this problem of fragmentation affects the parties in the mobile game application market, and offer some recommendations on how to achieve standardization of mobile gaming platform.

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