Adidas: The Quest

The FIFA World Cup is in full swing right now, and the hopes of nations around the world are riding on matches coming in the final matches of the group stage. Appropriately, Adidas has launched an ad campaign called The Quest for their new, lighter soccer shoes called The Spark, The Powerhouse and The Maestro.

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Smartphone Virtual Goods Worth $168 Million In 2009

Frank N. Magid Associates and OpenFeint today released a study examining how Americans spend money on virtual goods. The study, titled Magid Media Futures 2010 Wireless and Consumers, reveals that Americans bought $168 million worth of mobile virtual goods in 2009. Nearly half of all smartphone users are playing mobile games and 16 percent of those are spending an average of $41 per year on in-game virtual goods.

“The market for virtual goods has already exploded in web-based games like Zynga’s Farmville, and we’re just now starting to see this trend in the mobile space,” said Steve Lin, VP Operations of Aurora Feint. “In just the last few months we ve seen amazing interest from our game developers in building mobile social games with virtual goods. Our internal numbers reflect the study in that free-to-play models will be the dominant pricing structure in the future.”

The study also says that 55 percent of smartphone gamers are interested in buying virtual goods, and the demographic skews heavily towards males between 18 and 34 years of age. Smartphone gamers downlaod 14 gamers per year, four of which are paid, and they are likely to read reviews and rely on word of mouth.

“Everybody knows free-to-play social gaming models on PC platforms have been making a killing but mobile virtual goods aren t as well understood,” said Mike Vorhaus, President, Magid Advisors. “With almost 20 percent of smartphone gamers already making purchases, there s a lot of room for the market to keep taking off as smartphones continue to increase in popularity.”

The second part of the study will be released this Summer.

iPad: 3 Million Sold

Apple announced today that three million iPads have sold in just 80 days after release in the U.S. There are already over 11,000 new apps available made specifically for the device, along with 225,000 other apps on the App Store.

“People are loving iPad as it becomes a part of their daily lives,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We’re working hard to get this magical product into the hands of even more people around the world, including those in nine more countries next month.”

Prince Of Persia Set To Pass $300 Million

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time has not lived up to the Pirates of the Caribbean-like hype surrounding it, receiving middling reviews and failing to capture the box office its first weekend. The movie has a respectable but not spectacular $80.5 million domestic take.

However, the Prince of Persia movie has proven to be more of a hit internationally, with a total of $213.1 million outside of the U.S. With a worldwide gross of $293.6 million, it’s likely that it’ll see exceed $300 million by the end of its run, making it the highest grossing video game movie ever; whether that alone will warrant a sequel is up for debate.

Source: Big Download

SGN Gets $2 Million In Funding

Social Gaming Network (SGN) has raised $2 million in second round funding from Tomorrow Ventures and Xing founder Lars Hinrichs. The company’s first round of financing was for $15 million in May 2008, from Greylock Ventures, Founders Fund, Columbia Partners, and Novak Biddle Venture Partners.

SGN has concentrated on iOS titles like Skies of Glory, Mafia, Agency Wars, and Vampires vs. Werewolves. The company is looking to expand into games on Facebook and MySpace, and then onto Android.

Kinect Manufacture Costs Are $150, Says Source

According to inside sources, Microsoft’s Kinect will cost roughly $150 to manufacture. Apparently, the cost of the device (which featured prominently in their E3 press conference) has caused quite a bit of consternation internally at Microsoft.

Screen Digest games analyst Ed Barton wasn’t surprised by the $150 cost of Kinect. “In pure console peripheral terms, $150 costs are expensive but the question is how much Microsoft is wiling to cut to raise market share,” said Barton. “The further above manufacturing costs it is, the tougher it becomes. Especially since Microsoft is targeting Kinect to a more casual market. Presumably, a big portion of Microsoft’s target market for Kinect won t have a console already, so adding in the console costs along with the camera costs, the result is starting to look a bit pricey.”

The Israeli company Primesense helped contribute to the technology behind Kinect. Barton believes that the acquisition of Primesense may contribute to the ultimate cost.

“There’s basic hardware tear-down costs, says Barton, but Kinect isn’t just a number of components, it’s also a software layer one that is absolutely key for the whole experience. Kinect’s R&D costs might be sunk into the manufacturing costs, because Microsoft needed to ensure that Kinect’s basic imaging actually has a software layer that can be fed into the developer toolchain. These are things that require investment, and serious expertise, and would argue would have pushed the manufacturing costs of Kinect up even more.”

“Of course, Kinect may ultimately position Microsoft for entry in fields outside of gaming. I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see Microsoft apply the technologies elsewhere, for things like video conferencing,” said Barton. “It may have been possible, in its planning, that Microsoft has decided the investment it has made into Kinect can spread across all sorts of areas beyond gaming.”

“The commercial guys at Microsoft will obviously want to sell the unit at its lowest price, but the accountants will be arguing that Microsoft has to start paying for all the R&D and goods that got it to this position. The one thing that Microsoft has proven over the last few years, especially with its aggressive price cuts, is that the company is prepared to add pressure on itself to win market share,” concluded Barton.

Source: Develop

Facebook: Why It Won’t Go Pay

The fear that Facebook will become a subscription service is a very real one to millions of its users; a tertiary look at groups on the social network service reveals that much. If you ask Facebook though, it’s not going to happen now or ever.

“We have absolutely no plans to charge for the basic service of using Facebook,” said Facebook spokesman Larry Yu. “Last year we saw a similar rumor circulating that Facebook was going to begin charging $1.99 to use the site, but this year we’re hearing that fee increased to $14.99 with the spread of this rumor. We look forward to hearing what Facebook might be rumored to cost for use next year.”

Other employees at Facebook will say that having a pay-wall runs counter to the company’s goal to make the world more open and connected. Even if you don’t buy that, there are very good profitability reasons they won’t go to a subscription service.

The more users it has, the more appealing Facebook is to advertisers. There’s also the use of microtransactions for games and virtual gifts, and the more people that have access to those features, the better for Facebook. All of this means that Facebook will make more money when they don’t have a subscription fee, showing the true power of advertisements.

Source: CNN {link no longer active}

Nintendo Unlikely To Sell 3DS Below Cost

According to Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata, Nintendo has been working on 3D potentially for the GameBoy Advance and GameCube though it was only in the 3DS that the time was considered right. He also claims that, while he is an iPhone user, he didn’t think of Apple’s device while designing 3DS.

“When asked about the price of the 3DS,” Iwata responded, “I have to refrain from talking specifically about the price point. What I can confirm is that, in terms of the production costs, it will cost more than the costs for the Nintendo DS today. Having said that, we believe we will produce enough value worthy of the production cost. We do not think we have to sell the products below cost.”

While not a confirmation of any sort of price, it hints at a higher price point than any portable system that has released before.

Source: VentureBeat {link no longer active}