iPhone users play the most games

I bet my iPhone is a better handheld gamer than your Nokia
I bet my iPhone is a better handheld gamer than your Nokia

Two new reports out today show that mobile gaming and gambling are on the rise all over the world, with Apple iPhone owners playing more games than people with other handsets.

Juniper Research found that Java game downloads in Western Europe and North America declined during 2008, but that Apple's App Store offset that with a 'remarkable volume' of games downloads.

Overall, mobile gamers Europe and America slackened off last year, while strong growth in Asia, Africa and the Middle East saw global revenues for the sector rise more than 20 per cent to an estimated £3.8 billion in 2008.

Asian gamers triumph

The Far East and China is the largest regional market in terms of games downloads; while the Indian sub-continent will overhaul Europe to become the second-largest market as soon as next year.

The report also noted that the levels of gameplay per download via iPhone were far higher than for any other handset - and predicted that half of all games downloaded by 2012 will be funded by advertising.

"The combination of iPhone and the Apple App Store has galvanized the mobile games industry," said report author Dr Windsor Holden. "Apple has provided an innovative device which enables developers to create smooth, compelling, visually attractive games for the mobile user, together with a business model offering a highly competitive revenue share for developers."

Flutter while you flit

In a separate report, Juniper Research noted acceleration in the deployment of on-portal mobile gambling services and higher-profile mobile activity from casinos and betting firms.

Apparently, improvements in the user interface of gambling applications and services led to a surge in the volume of gambling activity during 2008, and that despite the global recession, the gambling industry would see further growth in 2009.

Juniper Research expects mobile gamblers to wager nearly £3.5 billion this year.

Mark Harris is Senior Research Director at Gartner.