Why your next gaming console could be a smartphone?

Smartphones and tablets have confirmed their status as full-blown gaming platforms with the rise of Google Play and Apple's App Store. And it is only a matter of time before they take over the lounge as your main gaming console as well displacing the Xbox, the Wii or the Playstation.

Each new generation of hardware brings mobile, as a whole, closer to the performance of gaming consoles.

Indeed, rumour has it that the next generation of Xbox, codenamed Durango, could well be powered by a chip similar to that found in a smartphone.

Qualcomm for example has stated that its next generation Adreno GPU (3xx) will have similar game performance to the Xbox 360 and the PS3 while Nvidia expects parity to be reached by 2014.

And Sony's latest console, the PS Vita, is essentially a smartphone without voice capabilities as it packs everything from 3G, a quad core ARM-based CPU and Power VR-based GPU, a touchscreen display and other features found primarily on mobile platforms.

Smartphone chips could be altered to dynamically overclock (or wake up additional cores) when tethered - in which case power consumption becomes less of an issue.

The mass roll out of wireless technologies like Bluetooth 4.0, NFC or 802.11ac means that it will soon be possible to get very high sustain data rates over very short distances without paying a significant premium (both in real estate and financial terms).

The implications are tremendous. A smartphone could soon be equipped with an array of motion detectors (like the Samsung Galaxy S3 has), sport voice-control (like Siri), Kinect-like controls, wireless connectivity to the gaming controllers, the television set (assuming it is Wi-Fi enabled), charging wirelessly via induction charging and calls being taken either via a Bluetooth handset or viva voice.

For manufacturers, it would mean widening the user base in one swoop, shrinking the lifecycle of these new generation gaming consoles to two years at most (rather than five) and perhaps most importantly, start in the black without the need for massive investments have caused Microsoft and Sony to bled billions in the past.

The only major obstacle would be how to get the game data. One option is to emulate OnLive but this requires a large data allowance, very low latency and most importantly a stable and fast broadband access. The other option is to download or buffer the game prior to playing it like Netflix.

Current gaming consoles use the tried-and-trusted optical disks to carry games but smartphones will not be able to do read them (unless the likes of Sony or Microsoft design a sub-£50 cheap base unit that contains an optical drive).

The stakes are very high for established players like Sony and Microsoft (and to a lesser extent Nintendo) and it wouldn't be surprising if Sony Mobile and Windows Phone become pivotal to PSN and Xbox respectively.