In a report released June 7, ABI Research projected that sales of handheld gaming devices from NinTablet gamestendo and Sony would fall from a peak of 47 million in 2008 to 38 million in 2013. The report explains the decline by contrasting it with the rise of smartphones and tablets as mobile gaming platforms.

While the Sony PSP line and the Nintendo DS line support more uses than just gaming, the portable consoles don’t have as many functions as iOS and Android mobile devices with hundreds of thousands of apps available. The cost of game apps is also generally very low. For example, the average price of all iTunes App Store games is $1.05 as of June 11, 2012; about 44 percent of those games are free, according to 148Apps.

To some extent, the writing has been on the wall for some time. More than a year ago, analytics company Flurry released a report that showed iOS and Android grabbing 34 percent of portable game software revenue in the United States, up from 19 percent in 2009. It wasn’t just a case of some boats rising faster than others, either – the same report showed portable console revenue falling 8 percent from 2009 to 2010.

Senior ABI analyst Michael Inouye said in the report that there would still be a niche for portable consoles in the future, since hardcore gamers prefer a dedicated device to an all-in-one phone or tablet. “The addition of mobile gaming is not necessarily a zero sum situation; in fact, many feel there is plenty of room in the gaming market for both portable and mobile gaming,” he said.

News site DailyTech noted that smartphones are more attractive for casual gamers because they require no additional hardware investment and new models are released more frequently.

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