The unveiling this week at Mobile World Congress from Dell about their Ophelia project (thank you Jon Downey for bringing it to my attention) may have a profound impact on the game industry as early as Q3 of this year. Ophelia is a stick that turns a TV or monitor into your computer (through the HDMI port initially but there will be a USB version in the future), powered by Android. It is effectively your computer on a stick, which then integrates with Dell’s cloud services and allows you to use your apps or play your games. You can even upload and download files as if you were at your PC (or Mac).
Think about pulling out your Ophelia stick, plugging it into your TV and you can just start playing Bejeweled or Slotmania. Later, you plug it into your monitor at work. When you’re traveling, just plug it into the TV in your hotel room. You can play all your games, edit your documents, view your pictures, and anything you would do with a laptop or tablet.
This is a huge amount of functionality at a very reasonable price (it will cost less than $100) that could change, yet again, the way people compute and consume content. It could also disrupt the educational market: Schools could give every student a computer for less than $100.
For social and mobile game companies, this is a huge opportunity. Although it is an Android device, optimizing and marketing for this platform should open up a new class of users. The portability opens new ways to become viral—kids bring it over to their friends’ houses—and its use as a business tool could help make your game the solitaire of today.
This is quite an exciting opportunity for game companies. If the device was leaked by Apple, it would be front-page news worldwide. Given that it is Dell, everyone is a little cautious, but it has the potential of becoming the next must-have platform, and being on this platform early can mean huge returns.