Gaming news summary for November 12, 2015
Welcome to the Game Replay, the thrice-weekly look at the wider world of gaming by the staff of MacNN. In today's edition, Blizzard ships a Hearthstone expansion, JJ Abrams works on a new game, the NPD claims the Xbox One beat the PlayStation 4 in hardware sales last month, and Nintendo holds its first Nintendo Direct presentation since the passing of company president Satoru Iwata.
June console sales up 103 percent, PlayStation 4 in the lead by 476,000 units
After Microsoft provided internal figures that saw sales for the Xbox One double since dropping the Kinect and $100 off the price, NPD confirmed that the increase still wasn't enough to catch Sony's PlayStation 4. For the sixth month in a row, the PlayStation 4 claimed the top spot for console sales as the hardware market increased to $292.7 million.
Nokia rolls out Refocus app to all Lumia devices running Windows Phone 8
Nokia is making its Lytro-style Refocus app available to all Windows Phone 8 Lumia devices, as a free download via the Windows Phone Store. The app, which was initially released for Lumias with PureView, allows users to adjust the focal point of an image, after the photograph has been taken, with the resulting image shareable on social networks and stored on OneDrive.
Streaming video on demand subscribers continue to rise
Streaming video services such as Netflix and Hulu could in some cases be eroding the customer base of premium television broadcasters, according to a new report. NPD Group figures for the period between March 2012 and August 2013 show that the number of subscribers to HBO, Showtime, and other channels have dropped from 38 percent of US households to 32 percent.
Recently-refreshed MacBooks, wide iMac availability credited
According to new data from retail analyst NPD, revealed in a note to investors from Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, US Mac sales are up 29 percent from the year-ago quarter. In part, the figures come from the fact that the just-redesigned iMac was severely constrained in the year-ago quarter, with extremely limited supplies largely missing the holiday buying season entirely. In addition, the company has recently refreshed most of its Mac lineup to Intel's latest "Haswell" chip.
Smartphone data consumption higher on phablets
Owners of smartphones with larger screens consume considerably more data on their devices than do the owners of smaller devices like Apple's iPhone. The finding comes from new figures out from The NPD Group, which looked at monthly Wi-Fi and cellular data consumption among American consumers. For the three months ending July 2013, NPD found that the owners of smartphones with screens sized 4.5 inches and larger used 44 percent more data than those with smaller devices.
TV buyers said to be too used to standard model of watching
Internet-connected HDTVs, despite growing install base, aren't being used for much more than watching TV. This according to NPD's latest Connected Intelligence Application & Convergence report, which shows that the majority of connected TV owners are using the devices to access video media, but not much else. Streaming video services are faring well, but other uses -- such as mapping, social networking, gaming, and shopping -- are seeing low adoption according to the market research firm.
From 2010 to 2016, low-cost smartphones to double yearly
The low-end smartphone market will experience phenomenal growth over the next six years, with shipments of models costing under $150 set to double every year between now and 2016. This according to NPD DisplaySearch's new Smartphones: Displays, Designs and Functionality report. The report sees low-cost smartphone shipments doubling every year from 2010 to 2016, with the sector moving 311 million units in 2016.
Worldwide, smart TVs move into the mainstream
The smart TV sector is moving from technological novelty to the mainstream, according to NPD DIsplaySearch. The consumer information company has just published its Quarterly Smart TV Shipment and Forecast Report, finding that smart TV shipments should grow 15 percent worldwide this year. The growth in smart TVs is seen as indicative of a larger trend among consumers, one in which media consumption habits are shifting to adjust to the digital era.
Survey shows age also a factor in data usage
Android smartphone users download an average of 870MB of data per month through mobile networks, a study suggests. A survey by research group NPD also found that around 2.5GB of data is transferred on Wi-Fi networks, and effectively mirrors the results found in a similar survey performed last month.
Survey results suggest reversal of user numbers
Televisions are the primary screen for viewing free and paid video streamed from the Internet, according to the NPD. A recent survey suggests that 45-percent of Americans primarily use their TVs for online streaming, while 31-percent used personal computers instead. This is the first time that the TV has overtaken computers for web-based video.
Almost no one uses more than 3GB
The overwhelming majority of smartphone users on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon never exceed the 2GB per month data cap that's common to many carriers. This according to a new study from NPD, which looked at data usage among Android smartphone users. TechNewsDaily got ahold of the study's results, finding that the data caps in place are more than sufficient for all but a comparatively small portion of smartphone users.
NPD report finds kids spend five hours a week on mobile devices
New numbers out from market research company NPD Group suggest the average mobile device holds 12 apps targeted at kids. The payoff from the popularity of kid-friendly apps is uncertain, though, as NPD estimates that nearly nine out of 10 of those apps are acquired for free. In news that could prove troubling for traditional game-console makers Nintendo and Sony, the report finds that gaming on mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, is a particularly popular activity among children.
Business Insider does the math, doesn't get NPD's numbers
NPD's quarterly market share report was refreshed on May 2, and it listed Android holding 61 percent of the market, with Apple's iOS devices second at 29 percent. Analysts at Business Insider believethat NPD's interpretation of carrier provided data is incorrect and not painting an accurate picture. According to revised estimates calculated by Business Insider, Apple's marketshare is closer to 50 percent and may even be topping Android.
NPD shows iPad as gateway device
A new NPD Group study has shown that the iPad is serving as a lure to the Apple ecosystem as a whole. Over 25 percent of those buying an iPad in the US are completely new to the company. With a typical Apple-owning household having 2.4 devices, it was possible that many of these were about to buy further into the ecosystem.
NPD data shows Xbox 360 out front again
New NPD data published late Thursday gave the Xbox 360 not just a sustained lead in March but a rare milestone in hardware overall. At 371,000 units, Microsoft's console stayed in the lead for overall sales for the 15th consecutive month. The $430 million spent on the hardware and its games, however, was also larger than the combination of money spent supporting the Nintendo Wii and Sony PS3.
NPD sees big rebound in February
Results posted late Thursday by the NPD Group chalked up a significantly improved February for gaming following a bleak January. Console hardware sales were up 87 percent over what they were in January, to $381.4 million, helped not just by 426,000 Xbox 360 sales but also by the PlayStation Vita. Sony had just four days of hardware sales that weren't directly quantified, but they were enough that the increase would have been a more modest if still healthy 62 percent.
NPD points to iPad owners being wealthier, older
iPad owners are increasingly more likely to be wealthier and older than their counterparts, the NPD Group uncovered on Friday. Over 40 percent of iPad owners have a combined household income of over $100,000 a year where just 26 percent of those with Android and PlayBook tablets can claim the same. These more comfortable homes were more likely to have tablets as a whole.
Xbox 360 sales drop year to year but still ahead
New NPD data has once again given the Xbox 360 the lead in console sales in the US during January, but in grim conditions. At 270,000 systems in the month, it had enough to outpace the Nintendo Wii and Sony PS3, whose sales researchers were keeping secret. However, its performance was noticeably worse than a year ago, where it had moved 381,000 systems.
NPD Q4 2011 results show iPhone bounce back
The iPhone is now the top-selling cellphone of any kind in the US, the NPD Group determined on Monday. As of the fall, the iPhone 4S was the bestselling device in the field. Apple also managed a clean sweep of the top three, with the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS at second and third places.
NPD sees tablet market gorow with developing world
NPD researchers on Monday took a gamble with a belief that tablet demand would explode over the next five years. It saw the category swelling from 72.7 million in 2011 by about 5.3 times to reach 383.3 million in 2017. Almost half of those, 46 percent, would go to developing countries as prices came down.
Netflix Q4 2011 buoyed by US, hurt elsewhere
Netflix saw the fuller consequences of its more controversial decisions on Wednesday with results from the fall. The company added more streaming customers than it expected, 220,000, but the "continued impact" of its price hike for those keeping DVDs and streaming led to it shedding 2.76 million disc subscriptions. These, along with the costs of expansion outside of the US, dragged Netflix's profit down 13 percent year over year to $41 million.
NPD estimate calls for 383m tablets in 2017
Tablets will grow rapidly enough over the next five years to be nearly as important as notebooks, the NPD Group's DisplaySearch wing said in an unusually long-term estimate. Determining that tablets will have grown 256 percent this year where notebooks would be up just 12 percent, it predicted a quick enough pace that there would be 383.3 million tablets shipped in 2017. While notebooks would be up to 432 million in this view, they would no longer have the clear advantage.
NPD tracks smartphone and digital gaming at last
The NPD Group in a rare step began tracking some of the contributions of non-traditional gaming to the industry for the first time. It estimated that about $1.64 billion came from "other content," which includes mobile games as well as direct downloads and social network games, generated $1.64 billion in revenue. The growth made it larger than the traditional software side of the business, which dropped to $1.3 billion
NPD sees smartphones leading in photography
Smartphones are now responsible for more than a quarter of the photos and videos people take in the US, new NPD studies suggest. About 27 percent of shots taken in 2011 came from a smartphone, whether it was an iPhone, Android, or other device. Dedicated cameras, meanwhile, dropped from 52 percent down to 44.
NPD shows Android did not dampen iPhone in 2011
An NPD Group look back at most of 2011 has shown the sheer change in the smartphone business in the past year. Android was now the majority, having climbed from 42 percent in all of 2010 to 53 percent from the start of 2011 through October. Despite the pressure, though, Apple too grew share the entire year and actually grew at a faster relative rate, bouncing back from a dip to 21 percent in 2010 to a new high of 29 percent by this October.
NPD charts huge device sales, flat cash in Nov '11
New NPD data has shown runaway gaming hardware sales in November that could signal a minor revival in the face of iOS gaming. Nintendo saw a resurgence as it moved 795,000 3DS units in the US during the month, or about double what it has in recent months. It still managed to sell 350,000 DSi systems, leading it to about 1.15 million handheld gaming systems in one month.
NPD says convergence, economy hurting holiday 2011
Holiday sales may be the worst since 2008 through a combination of the economy and technology, NPD Group VP Stephen Baker said Friday. Along with anxiousness over the economy, categories that were once key to sales, such as dedicated cameras, GPS units, and MP3 players were all expected to face "significant" declines. Although not directly stated, all of the categories were those covered by smartphones, reducing the need to buy separate devices.
NPD finds 22 percent of Q2 phones have 4G support
During the last quarter in the US market, about 22 percent of all smartphones sold supported 4G networks, the NPD Group found. This is a huge jump from last year's quarter, which saw only three percent of all smartphones be 4G capable. The growth is no doubt due to the added number of available 4G services and devices, such as Verizon's LTE network.
Microsoft claims Xbox 360 leads August 2011
Microsoft claimed one of the longer unbroken video game console sales streaks in recent memory as the Xbox 360 was once more the top-selling console in the US, according to NPD data. August sales bounced back from July's low point and hit 306,000 of the systems. Nintendo added that the 3DS price cut made a meaningful impact and saw sales jump to 235,000, about 185,000 of which were after the August 12 drop to $170.
NPD gives Xbox 360 lead in May despite new low
New NPD data unveiled Monday night showed the video game business at a rare low with Microsoft getting the most benefits. Although it hesitated to give full numbers, it had the combined hardware and software sales in May at their lowest point since October 2006 based on a "light slate of new releases" led mostly by LA Noire and Brink. The Xbox 360 was the top system of the batch at 270,000 units and was up 28 percent, making up 34 percent of the revenue, while the Wii's continued fall was the primary drag on the industry.
Microsoft promo gives Xbox 360 Arcade with PCs
Microsoft took its own turn at driving computer sales with a new promo. Anyone buying a Windows 7-based PC worth $699 or higher will get an Xbox 360 Arcade 4GB system for free without needing a rebate. Online shops for Microsoft and other PC builders will give the Xbox to anyone buying using a .edu e-mail address, but Best Buy and Microsoft Stores will take student IDs.
comScore March data has Apple near ousting RIM
New data from comScore for this past March has pointed to Apple nearly passing RIM in smartphone market share for the US. Shipping 18.65 million iPhones helped Apple gain half a point since December to hit 25.5 percent share in its home country. The BlackBerry fell almost five points in the same space of time, dropping to 27.1 percent and close enough that Apple could pass it in the spring.
NPD says Verizon iPhone helped Apple vs Google
The launch of the Verizon iPhone 4 in the winter not only helped Apple gain status in the US but saw Android share decline for the first time in two years, the NPD Group found on Thursday. Apple was now the third-largest phone maker of any type in the US at 14 percent, slipping only behind basic phone specialists Samsung (23 percent) and LG (18 percent). The iPhone jumped nine points in smartphones to 28 percent, but Android had slipped from a record high 53 percent smartphone sales in the fall to 50 percent spread across its several manufacturers.
NPD says Mac sales up 47pc while PCs on way down
New NPD data in a research note later on Monday from Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster suggested that the new MacBook Pro may have pushed Apple well ahead in growth in the computer market. March sales in the US were estimated to be up 47 percent compared to a year earlier following the much faster line's introduction in late February. The growth came after more modest but still healthy 20 percent and 12 percent year-to-year increases in January and February.
Total spending on platform said to reach $457M
Microsoft's Xbox 360 has maintained its leading position in console sales for March, continuing a trend that traces back through the holidays, according to numbers published by research firm NPD Group. The company is said to have sold 433,000 units in March, exceeding the January sales numbers by more than 50,000 units.
NPD gives Netflix 61pc of online movies
Netflix now has a dominant share of the online video on demand business, according to new NPD data. The subscription streaming service has 61 percent of all the movies downloaded or streamed in January and February. Apple, despite iTunes' reputation, was at just four percent and tied with both DirecTV and Time Warner Cable.
Nintendo claims healthy DS sales despite iPod
Nintendo on Friday posted results showing a significant slump in console sales from year to year that are likely to have been affected by the iPod touch and iPhone. It shipped 2.5 million DS systems in December, according to NPD data, representing a steep 24 percent drop from the 3.31 million last year. The company claimed to have the best portable console sales of 2010 but was counting rivals like the Sony PSP and not multi-role handhelds.
Microsoft trumpets 1.9m Xbox 360s in NPD results
Microsoft backed up earlier guesses tonight and said it blew away expectations with 1.9 million Xbox 360s sold in December. The NPD-sourced data made it the best-ever month for the game console. Its total sales were also up a sharp 42 percent from year to year and made it the only console to see its numbers grow over 2009.
Microsoft warns Xbox 360 shortages until February
Microsoft's Xbox Live Programming Director Larry "Major Nelson" Hryb warned in the past day that there were once again Xbox 360 shortages following the holidays this year. The console ran out of stock at the end of December and will have prevented Microsoft from beating Nintendo's Wii in the NPD sales charts. Supply in January and February would be "tight as well," he added.
NPD: 26.3m tablet, touch netbook screens in 2010
The launch of the iPad almost single-handedly drove the rise of large touchscreens this year, the NPD Group's DisplaySearch found today. About 6.3 million touchscreens large enough for tablets and touch-aware netbooks shipped in the first half of 2010, but the rise of the iPad and relatively minor contributions from the Samsung Galaxy Tab will have boosted that number to about 20 million for the second half. Although declining to mention Apple by name, the researchers noted that key iPad supplier Wintek produced the "majority" of the large touchscreen hardware for the year.
Profit margins greater on premium products
Research firm NDP says that consumers are now paying more for PCs, reversing a downward trend over the past few years according to a report. Computer prices rose by 6 percent in November, bucking a trend towards lower prices for other consumer technology such as HD TVs and digital cameras. Last year consumers were paying an average price of $580 for computers, but this increased to $615 this year.
NPD says holiday sales dark as prices, tech dull
The NPD today warned that technology sales during the holidays could be especially bleak. Industry Analysis VP Stephen Baker said estimates were looking "increasingly dark" and blamed it mostly on the culture behind the companies themselves. Price was a primary reason, as he accused companies of focusing too heavily on price and encouraging a culture that assumed it would get perpetually lower device prices, even when it wasn't realistic.
NPD says iPad cannibalization of PCs low but real
The NPD Group today found that the iPad was having a mild but significant impact on computer sales. While the effect wasn't as large as expected, about 13 percent of iPad buyers had picked one instead of a computer. The relatively low cannibalization was attributed to many buyers still being early adopters that bought the Apple tablet simply because they wanted it. That figure could change once the iPad was more established, the researchers said.
Best Buy CEO backtracks on iPad killing notebooks
Best Buy chief Brian Dunn tonight reversed course on claims that the iPad cut notebook sales in half at his stores. In a statement, he did see "shifts in consumption patterns" towards the Apple tablet but characterized it more as an "incremental opportunity" than the market redefining shift it was first thought to be. He didn't accuse the WSJ of misquoting him but likened his view on notebooks to Mark Twain's after the legendary false obituary.
Xbox holds lead over DS again in August
Microsoft managed to repeat its rare lead in console sales again in August as it outsold Nintendo's DS in the US, according to NPD data for the month. The slim Xbox and its new Arcade counterpart moved 356,700 systems last month where the DS fell well behind, at 342,700 systems. The gap was widened partly by Madden NFL 11, which sold over 920,000 copies just on the Xbox 360; the best-selling game for a Nintendo system, Super Mario Galaxy 2 on the Wii, only sold 124,600 copies.
NPD says iPhone and iPod buys still about music
Despite stereotypes, music still the dominant factor in how iPhone and iPod touch owners use their devices, the NPD Group discovered. While "virtually all" have downloaded a free app at some point, 82 percent have been willing to pay for music; 56 percent have only ever bought songs from the store. When they search, most are looking for music and not apps.
NPD July shows X360 beating DS, Wii
Microsoft achieved a symbolic victory today as NPD revealed that it had led overall console sales for the first time in the Xbox 360's history. The first full month of slim Xbox 360 availability in July saw the company move 443,500 systems. While near-flat versus a year ago, Nintendo DS sales dropped steeply enough, by 112,000 units, to give Microsoft the lead with 398,400 DS handhelds shipped.
MS sets deadline for last XP systems
Microsoft has sent out a warning that Windows XP will finally be dropped from netbooks as of October 22. The policy is a reminder of a move originally unveiled in April 2008 but will require that all Windows-based netbooks use Windows 7 from the fall onwards. Switching isn't expected to be a major issue as about 81 percent of netbooks were already using the much more modern OS by April, according to NPD data.
Editorial questions Apple's short-term app goals
(Editorial) Recently, Apple quietly removed an application from its App Store called MyFrame, which allows users to view photos, manage their Twitter feeds, and control music over images a user chooses to display on their iPad. The application's owners e-mailed Steve Jobs asking why the application was removed. According to reports, Jobs said that his company is "not allowing apps that create their own desktops." He followed it up with a quick, "sorry."