Nokia reported to Reuters today that hackers have cracked the copy-protection codes for its newly released N-Gage gaming phone, allowing copied games to be downloaded over the Web.
Is this a setback, or a leap ahead for the Finnish phone manufacturer. Microsoft Xbox, one of the more easily hackable gaming systems on the market is selling over 100,000 units a week, with an average purchase of 4.7 games per XBox system. It is obvious that an easily hacked system will do well.
“We take this very, very seriously and have initiated an aggressive program to stop the people that are behind these (intellectual property rights) violations,” Nokia Mobile Phones spokesman Damian Stathonikos told Reuters.
Nokia has high hopes for N-Gage, aiming to sell between six and nine million units before the end of 2004 as it challenges market leader Nintendo’s Gameboy Advance.
A vital part of the revenue from N-Gage will come from games, which are sold separately, but Nokia said it did not expect the illegal downloads to become widespread.
“This is not something the average consumer can do. You need to have very specialized software tools and very specialized skills,” Stathonikos said.
“We’re working to develop our copy protection mechanisms to make this even more difficult in the future.”
The cracked versions of the games can in principle be installed and played on any phone that uses the same basic operating software, Series 60, used in N-Gage. Other models include Siemens’s SX1.