To no ones surprise, Nokia announced the death of the N-Gage mobile game platform this week. In spite of repeated denials about its impending demise over the past couple of years, Nokia decided to focus on music and camera-focused phones, while attempting to integrate better game technology into their advanced Series 60 phones vs having specific game-focused phones.
The company spent an estimated $1B+ on the effort and sold about 2M units, which was way below their goal - it was marked by a misguided initial product (remember sidetalking?) effort which violated practically every known rule about how to launch a console, mostly becuase Nokia didn't employ anyone with previous console experience. By the time the much improved NGage QD shipped, with better pricing, unique content and an improved feature set, the market had already moved on to either simpler games in standard mobile phones, or more compelling games in handheld platforms such as GBA and PSP. It's unfortunate since Nokia gave it a valiant effort, producing some of the most interesting mobile online content in gaming (NGage arena) as well as groundbreaking games such as Mile High Pinball and Pathway to Glory. However, as I have repeatedly mentioned, the console business is a graveyard full of broken dreams with a seemingly never ending flow of new entrants, the latest being Korean player Gamepark with their GP2X.
About the only winner in these types of platform failures seems to be Electronic Arts - Nokia was rumored to have paid millions of dollars (as high as $15M) to EA to incent them to port their sports games to N-Gage. Given that Gizmondo revealed in their public filings that they commited to pay (they'll never pay it all) EA $6M for similar rights, I'd say EA still comes out ahead in these situations.