Opinion: Apple Poised for More Disruption – Apple Gaming Console Coming

Well, the WWDC 2010 keynote has come and gone with a number of rumors still unaddressed. While Steve Jobs unveiled a stunning new iPhone with a plethora of great capabilities, we did not witness the rumored pending announcement of a new Apple TV running iOS 4. Nonetheless, there are a number of reasons to believe a next generation home entertainment device is coming with the intention to dominate the living room. Not only will the next iTV, or whatever it might be named, give the current pathetic lineup of cable company DVRs a taste of Apple innovation, but will also expand Apple’s disruption of the gaming industry from mobile devices to the console.

Let’s begin with the rumors…they usually originate for a reason, from some level of truth or leaked fact. The iPhone was rumored before it was unveiled back in 2007. The iPad had a long history of on-and-off rumors before finally being debuted earlier this year. While the rumors are not usually completely correct, they are usually not too far off the mark either.

Secondly, there’s the advancements Apple has made recently in displaying text and graphics. With both the iPad and newest iPhone, Apple has significantly changed how apps are displayed. Granted they were in control of engineering the screens for these devices, but a lot of the muscle is not dependent on just the hardware of the display but also on the software. So while Apple did not build the TV screen in your living room, they should be able to use software and lessons learned from recent developments to result in crisp output from the new iTV device.

A third factor in support of Apple eventually competing among gaming consoles is the new iPhone’s gyroscope. As described by Jobs, this newest sensor combines with accelerometer capabilities to provide precise 6-axis control a gaming object based on the direction and speed of movement. This technology would likely give the iTV controller an edge over the Wii remote’s accuracy.

And that brings us to the controllers. To Apple’s benefit they are already available. The iPhone and iPod Touch themselves can serve as the controller. Consider a couple examples. First, Scrabble for the iPad. The iPad’s screen serves to house the board where letter tiles are placed, yet players use their individual iPhones to store and review their tiles prior to placement. Second, SGN’s iFun (TechCrunch article) which allows for play of games on computers by physically moving the iPhone as one would with a Wii remote. Apple also already has available a razor thin wireless Bluetooth keyboard suitable for significant text input; and, photos leaked just prior to yesterday’s WWDC keynote of some type of Apple touchpad device that appears very similar to the Bluetooth keyboard in styling, and could be used for moving a “mouse” pointer on the iTV’s screen for app navigation or even game play.

The fifth factor is a very obvious one…more iTunes revenue. Nearly a quarter of a million apps now in the AppStore and approximately a quarter to a third of them are games. Today, console games are still mostly purchased or rented in physical formats at stores. They typically cost $25-$50 a title. Now comes iTunes and iOS to the home entertainment center with extreme efficiencies in file sizes resulting in rapid download of new titles, a familiar “touch” interface, an established software marketplace, and a new wealth of opportunities for developers. The move makes Apple, their devices, their new OS and iTunes that much more stickier for developers and consumers.

Finally, there’s Steve Jobs himself. Recall his primary reasons for the original iPod, the iPhone, the iPad and the MacBook Air. He cited numerous issues with competing products that were poorly designed and dominated the landscape. The pathetic software interfaces of cable company DVR’s from Motorola and other companies, the apparent plateauing of TiVo’s growth, and the gaming-only capabilities of the existing consoles have got to be eating him up. He can’t rely on his Apple TV all the time with no live TV and DVR capabilities, limited streaming ability, no access to web content and no ability to use any of the 250,000 apps now available for iOS. Steve’s focus has always been solving digital content and interface problems with unmatched design; and the state of the living room when it comes to a well designed, unified, entertainment device IS a problem that Steve just can’t ignore.

So, there you have it…another rumor. Apple will release a new “Apple TV” that borrows the best of the current model, the iPad and the iPhone, while even engaging with those devices to span the distance between the us and our living room’s big screen. Do you agree or disagree? Any predictions on a release date? Will it be enough to counter Microsoft’s Project Natal?


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