Last week the company announced that its upcoming GamePop console would not only be capable of running games written for the Android platform, but it would also be able to play games written for Apple iPhone and iPad devices. This is big news in the mobile market because Apple doesn't allow its iOS applications to be played on non-iOS devices. The Android-powered console is able to do that because it's using a new proprietary mobile-to-TV virtualization technology pioneered by BlueStacks called Looking Glass.
Once again, the company is keeping the virtualization details mum. But even though BlueStacks' CEO Rosen Sharma wouldn't describe the details about how the Looking Glass technology works, he did say it's not an emulator for iOS.
According to Sharma, the virtualization technology for the GamePop console is different from the virtualization technology the company created for its PC product line. Instead, Looking Glass is more of an API-level virtualization. As an example, if an app makes a call to a menu item within Apple's platform, it goes to an iOS library in order to draw the appropriate menu. But in this case, BlueStacks intercepts the call and draws the menu instead.
"We re-create the API that iOS provides, but we don't use any Apple bits to do it," said Sharma. "The developer just gives us the app and we make sure that it'll run on GamePop." This is possible, according to Sharma, because the basic functions on iOS and Android have moved closer together and are very similar from an API perspective.
To be successful, it is important for BlueStacks to make things as easy as possible for developers to bring over their apps to this new platform. While developers don't have to worry about recoding their apps, they do have to consider the effects of changing over their payment back end so that it works with BlueStacks' subscription model.
Beyond bringing mobile games to the big screen of the television, BlueStacks also hopes to change the economics of the traditional gaming console (relatively expensive hardware subsidized by even more expensive games) and that of the mobile app market. Instead of offering a mobile app on the Apple or Android market place for say $1.99, the apps being offered on the GamePop console are going to be part of a $6.99 per month "all you can eat" subscription service, à la Netflix model.
BlueStacks does not plan to sell games on an à-la-carte basis, which may not be popular with some consumers, but Sharma said the company still believes that's the best model.
BlueStacks believes there is a lot of pull in the marketplace for up-selling mobile gaming to TV. To capture as much of that market as it can, BlueStacks is in talks with carriers, TV manufacturers, and cable companies, which could eventually offer the service to their respective customers.