Photo: Wikimedia Commons
If Apple is going to make another run at the living room — its first attempt, the Apple TV, is a dud — then its best strategy may be with a gaming-focused gadget.That would thrust Apple into further competition with the likes of Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo. But it might actually work.
Why an Apple gaming-focused device?
- Thanks to the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, Apple actually has the biggest ecosystem of game developers of any consumer electronics platform. Not Microsoft, not Sony, and not Nintendo. Apple’s iOS is the hottest and fastest-growing gaming platform in the world.
- Can you imagine a cooler game controller than an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad’s multi-touch screen? Especially now that gyroscopes are getting built in to new iPhones? (Downside: Expensive controllers!)
- The iPad and iPhone 4 are getting iOS game developers used to developing for a higher-resolution device. A hi-def TV wouldn’t be far removed, although developers would have to adjust their apps and UIs to deal with the fact that TVs aren’t touchscreens, even if their controllers have them.
- Apple is developing a social gaming service called “Game centre,” which it showed off at the iOS 4 preview event in April. There’s no reason it has to be for mobile devices only.
- The idea of an “Internet video device” doesn’t mean much to most consumers. That’s why few people are buying Rokus, Slingboxes, etc. But everyone understands the idea of a game console. And increasingly, they’re hooking them up to the Internet — Sony tells us that almost 80% of its PS3s are Internet-connected, for example. So gaming would be the foot-in-the-door for a lot of people.
- Apple’s box would also have the most casual games, and would appeal to a much wider audience than hardcore-gamer-focused rivals.
- Of course, the Apple gaming device would also be a full-featured Internet/video device, with apps from Netflix, Hulu, ABC, MLB.com, and others. Plus Apple’s iTunes TV and movie rentals. And other apps. And a web browser without Flash. And maybe even a DVD player, so it can replace a box that’s already hooked up to the TV, not require another port.
- We’d throw in the possibility of a camera — either built-in or as an accessory — to make FaceTime calls on your giant living room TV.
- The TV/living room market could be a logical next step for Apple’s iAd business.
Plenty of challenges, of course. And yes, we remember the last time Apple tried a gaming device — the ill-fated Pippin. But if Apple can make something like this for $200, it may have a winner.
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