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Could the iPad 2 replace traditional video game consoles?

The iPad 2's new hardware and its popularity has led to speculation that tablet devices will soon replace consoles. Rovio Mobile's Peter Vesterbacka is the most vocal champion of this position and recently claimed during a South by Southwest panel that console games are "dying." Vesterbacka points to the lower price point of mobile games and their ability to be updated rapidly as two factors that will push mobile gaming ahead of consoles.

While Vesterbacka talks smack about consoles, former Sony executive Phil Harrison takes a much more balanced approach towards this subject. Harrison acknowledges that tablet hardware is evolving so rapidly that tablets could rival that of the console. The Apple tablet has more than doubled its performance in a year, while the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 remain unchanged after five years.

Though the hardware evolution may outpace the consoles, the gaming experience of a tablet will be different than that of the console. "I think while there are clearly some compromises in terms of user interface and user experience on a tablet, the touch screen interface will enable other forms of game experience and game design that you couldn't do on a TV-based console," said Harrison, "so I think there's going to be a tradeoff. But I think the pads/tablets market is going to be a very vibrant market for games."

Harrison points out the strength of the tablet gaming market comes from the diverse business models available to mobile game developers. Developers can choose to generate revenue from free, ad-supported applications, games with in-app micro transactions and paid games with value-added features like social networking. "These are 21st century business models that are going to prevail," says Harrison.

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The iPad 2's new hardware and its popularity has led to speculation that tablet devices will soon replace consoles. Rovio Mobile's...