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iPad could be stealing sales from game consoles

Thinking of buying a 3DS? Or maybe a PSP 2 if it’s ever announced? How about a third option you may not have considered - the iPad? Don’t laugh. Arecent studyby Resolve Market Research suggests the iPad is becoming a viable option to portable gaming systems.

According to the study, prior to owning an iPad, 23% of users said the iPad would be preferable to a portable gaming device for playing games. That number may be an interesting statistic by itself, but after owning an iPad, 38% of users said they wouldn’t buy a portable gaming device. That number was second only to e-readers at 49%. Full-sized gaming consoles also made the list of no-longer-needed items with 27%.

There was once a time when gamers looked at Apple platforms the way an escaping prisoner searching for a hiding place looked at a truckload of rotten tomatoes and fish heads - it’ll serve your purpose, but it’s not your first choice by a long shot.

All of that changed with the release of the iPhone app store, which unleashed an avalanche of low grade tower defense games and fart simulators, but mixed in just enough decent games to make the iPhone a legitimate gaming platform. With the ease of developing for the iPhone transferring to the iPad, there’s always the possibility that it could eventually overtake dedicated gaming devices in the handheld sphere.

Could, yes. But probably won’t. As anyone who’s played them can tell you, controlling games a touch screen instead of buttons is like riding a blindfolded elephant on crack instead of a horse. In other words, they’re a little clumsy. The dedicated gaming platforms deliver an experience that the iPad just can’t match and core gamers know it. Combine that with its cost and the iPad doesn’t seem like a real threat to handheld gaming devices.

In fact, the iPad could actually be beneficial for gaming in general. The iPad study reveals another surprising tidbit that, after the early adopters, the second wave of iPad owners are older than 45. This is a group that typically doesn’t game and it’s possible that these and other non-traditional gamers could become more interested in video games after exposure to iPad games.

With all of that in mind, the iPad still has a ways to go before it reaches the popularity level of the iPhone. The study also shows that 55% of owners and would-be owners see the iPad as a very expensive toy. Those who didn’t plan on buying one cited the price and a lack of need for one.

Jul 9, 2010