Wireless Systems Design

Mobile Entertainment Enters New Category

Like its wired predecessor, wireless entertainment is guaranteed to be a hit with young audiences. When they reach their late teens, however, a large number of wired gaming enthusiasts traditionally move on to other interests. The wireless-entertainment industry wants to prevent such a dropoff before it begins. The recently launched Tapwave, Inc. (www.tapwave.com), for example, has unveiled plans for creating a new product category: mobile entertainment gear. These products will address the mobile-entertainment needs of technology enthusiasts—primarily those who are from ages 18 to 34.

Most of this category's details won't be revealed until the first product is introduced. It is clear, however, that the Tapwave products will be highly differentiated. Their many innovative features will offer a combination of functionality, technology, and portability for a true on-the-go entertainment experience (see photo). For example, they may include analog navigation, graphics acceleration, Bluetooth for multiplayer wireless gaming, and a high-resolution display. To deliver a console-quality gaming experience, they also will flaunt a full complement of gaming controls.

As part of its plan, Tapwave has come out with a business model that promises a recurring revenue stream. This business model is actually a hybrid hardware/software revenue model. It was designed to leverage the power and innovation of the mobile developer community while taking advantage of the products' "player characteristics" and the popularity of interactive video gaming.

The company also is relying heavily on partnerships. To power its new product category, for example, it has selected the i.MX family of media-extension applications processors from Motorola, Inc. (www.motorola.com). By offering efficient power management, the i.MX family helps manufacturers provide consumers with a rich experience via rapid, enhanced graphics and digital audio. In addition, the family's design and manufacturing techniques translate into less power consumption. Other integrated features of the i.MX processors, such as the multimedia extensions and video port, allow manufacturers to use fewer components in their devices.

Ideally, the new handheld products in Tapwave's category will entertain users while helping them manage their lives. The first product is expected to hit the market later this year. It will have multimedia features and the ability to wirelessly interact with other devices for game play and personal-information sharing.

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