March 5, 2007, 12:00 AM

The game’s at hand—but slowing a bit

On-portal mobile game revenue jumped 61% percent year-over-year to $151 million in Q4 2006, according to research firm Telephia. However, while revenue is growing, it is slowing consistent with a market that is maturing, the research finds.

On-portal mobile game revenue jumped 61% percent year-over-year to $151 million in Q4 2006; also, 17.4 million consumers who own mobile phones downloaded a mobile game last quarter, up 45% from a total of 12 million consumers in Q4 2005, according to Telephia Inc., a mobile communications industry research firm. On-portal mobile game revenue accounts for 74% of total mobile game revenue, while off-portal downloads account for 26%.

On-portal refers to an m-commerce portal, also known as a deck, hosted by a wireless telecommunications carrier; an e-commerce deck typically contains branded retail sites residing within the carrier’s proprietary wireless network as well as select Internet-based mobile versions of e-commerce sites. Off-portal refers to mobile versions of web sites accessible via a mobile phone’s mini web browser.

While revenue is growing, it is slowing consistent with a market that is maturing, the Telephia research finds. On another maturing note, mobile games have not been limited to the typical console game demographic of men 18-24 years old. The demographic is much broader, including women and men of all ages: 65% of mobile games are purchased by women, 40% by male and female consumers age 25-36, the research says.

“The mobile game industry has seen strong growth very quickly with titles that appeal to a broad demographic. However, the industry is faced with a new challenge in order to sustain its growth,” says Kanishka Agarwal, vice president of mobile content. “Several new mobile content services such as mobile video and full-track music also are competing for the mobile consumers’ attention and wallet.”

The mobile game market continues to be highly competitive, with nearly 90 publishers vying for a piece of the pie. EA Mobile leads the on-portal game download market with nearly 28% of total revenue; Gameloft and Glu Mobile share second place at 11% each; and Namco, I-play, Digital Chocolate, Hands-On Mobile, Superscape, Capcom and Oasys Mobile have revenue shares ranging from 2% to 6%.

Telephia`s Levi Shapiro is speaking at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition, June 4-7 in San Jose, in a session entitled Mobile Commerce is Happening-and Retailers Better Get Ready for It.

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