Sunday, May 11, 2008

Apple TV + iPhone = games console?

As Wired's recent article on the fierce rivalry between leading gadget blogs Engadget and Gizmodo illustrates, no-one likes to be pipped to the (blog) post. So, it was with some frustration that I fired up my feed-reader this morning to discover that Daniel Langendorf from ReadWriteWeb spin-off last100 had posted an op-ed piece entitled 'What if Apple re-enters the console gaming market through the iPhone?' covering much of the same ground as a post that has been kicking around in my drafts folder for the past couple of months entitled 'Will Apple's next play be gaming?'.

However, whilst Langendorf joins the dots on Apple's likely play for mobile gaming with the iPhone / iPod Touch (check out the video of SEGA demoing Super Monkey Ball for iPhone if you've not already seen it) and speculates that they might follow it up with an "integrated game console for the living room - either a new product or the next iteration of the AppleTV", he doesn't connect the two, which in my mind is where the really interesting play is.

What the iPhone lacks as a domestic gaming platform is a big screen and what Apple TV lacks is an appropriate controller. Put the two together, connected via WiFi, and you've potentially got a Rolls Royce Wii (admittedly, with a price tag to match and you probably wouldn't want to throw your iPhone around the living room the way you do your Wiimote). That said, the potential of the iPhone as a controller for a secondary console is pretty interesting to my mind, combining the accelerometer of the Wiimote with the touch-screen of the Nintendo DS to theoretically provide a motion-sensing two-screen experience (e.g. tilt device to steer plane, stroke screen to target missile). Multiplayer would just be a matter of your mates whipping out their iPhones, selecting your WiFi network and joining the game, with information relating to the status of their on-screen avatar displayed privately on their iPhone.

So, do I think this is likely to happen? Er, probably not. Despite his well-earned reputation as an innovator, Steve Jobs is a 'softly softly catchee monkey' man at heart, as his initially cautious approach to introducing video to the iPod demonstrated. That said, he's due another bite at the gaming cherry after the Apple Pippin... In the unlikely event that it does come to pass, you heard it heard first ;-)


Paul Mison said...

Not a bad post, but wasn't the Pippin during the Jobs exile at NeXT? Otherwise, I agree that this probably isn't going to happen, but it might be nice if it did.

Of course, the Xbox offers media centre functionality, which is probably why Dell et al aren't offering Apple TV style kit- the gorilla's already in the room.

Rita Roy said...

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