Nokia is giving up on the N-Gage, its much maligned gaming-centric phone. Nokia VP for Corporate Strategy Antti Vasara admits that the N-Gage "was not a success in the sense of developing a new category." Nokia's new emphasis will instead be on movies and music. Vasara expects to bring the phones back around 2007 with improved screen size and resolution.
Nokia has already begun integrating some of the N-Gage's gaming features into it's N-series phones. A spokesman said the company will continue to produce N-Gage phones for the Indian and Chinese markets and that new titles are still in the works.
The N-Gage has been the target of more than a few jokes over the years. The original version had serious design flaws (sidetalking, anyone?) and the platform was a massive commercial failure, selling only 2 million units instead of a projected 6 million. For years Nokia refused to admit defeat. Earlier this year at GDC, Nokia was hyping new N-Gage games and hinting that a new, improved N-Gage was in the works. I just hope the news that Nokia is backing off from gaming altogether won't have any affect on SNAP, Nokia's multiplayer community and gaming platform, which is supposed to have 25 titles out by the end of the year.
The whole story reminds me of an interview with legendary Nintendo game designer Shigeru Miyamoto. Miyamoto explained that cell phones have many technical constraints and are simply not good for gaming. He then pulled a Game Boy Micro out of his pocket, a $99 device that plays games far better than a $900 top-of-the-line cell phone. I think he might be on to something there. - Eli