No one is certain if Apple had any idea how much the iPhone and iPod Touch were going to take off as portable gaming devices when it launched the App Store. One only needs to look at the App Store for a few seconds to see which section of the store receives the most attention. The games are broken into sub-categories, there are always at least a few featured and they always seem to be topping the most downloaded apps.
So, this begs the question of when will Apple launch its own game console?
Lets be up front with this, there have been no rumblings of this, no leaked patents, no “parties familiar with the matters” talking to any one, this is pure speculation. However, we aren’t the only ones speculating. In July 2009, Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter spoke with Industry Gamers, and suggested that Apple may launch its own game console in 2013 based on the success of the game apps. Although Mr. Pachter later revised this date to 2015 in an interview with TG Daily, he still stood by his thoughts that it would eventually happen.
As I sat down to think about this possibility, a thought crossed my mind of how it could be done, and when I later found Mr. Pachter’s interviews, I discovered he had the same thoughts: the Apple TV. It is almost like Apple has gone the reverse of other consoles wherein they launched the game playing side of things, and then later added the entertainment with movie downloads and streaming services from Netflix. The Apple TV already has the ability to stream media from other computers in your household, and also to make purchases from the iTunes store directly from the device.
Now, imagine if they came along later and add the ability to play app games from the Apple TV. True, still not exactly a console, but it is a step in the right direction by adding value to a device that has struggled to find a large customer base. That customer base could be grown significantly by the addition of app games, possibly with even the ability to move scores and such and back-and-forth between devices.
The final step would be the addition of traditional console games, and this is where Apple could be a literal game changer. While the Xbox has its Arcade, and now Games on Demand, Apple excels at delivering media. They could quite possibly bypass the entire physical media aspect of selling games, and go strictly to a download service where you purchase them through the iTunes Store. This is probably the way we will eventually move with games anyway, and it is a formula that Apple has already mastered in many ways.
With the head start the likes of Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony have, it’s hard to say if the market could sustain a fourth console. There is already evidence that it cannot as demonstrated by the death of the Sega Dreamcast that drove the company completely out of building consoles. However, this is Apple we are talking about here. Steve Jobs is nothing if not a showman, and he can convince pretty much anyone that they need anything. (That old saying about, “he could probably sell ice to Eskimos” always pops into my head when I think about Mr. Jobs) We know that the device would be curvy, smooth and sexy to look at, and lets face it, the Nintendo Wii isn’t exactly a looker.
A game console makes a lot of sense for the company:
- It would provide yet another revenue stream
- It would get the iTunes Store even more tightly integrated into your daily life
- It would provide them with another battlefront where they could take on Microsoft
- It could get the Apple TV in to more homes in probably one day of sales as compared to the entire history of the device
Again, there is no evidence out there this is happening, not even a vague rumor, this is pure and total speculation of what Apple could possibly do some day. And I have to say, it is darn intriguing. None of this is to say that it will ever happen, but considering the war chest of cash this company has, they don’t have very much to lost by giving it a try.