Is Apple about to do it again?

1993: Apple Newton. Newton fails.
2007 – iPhone released. Dominates smartphone market.

1995-1997 – Apple Pippin. Pippin Fails.

If Apple DID enter the console market, it would be interesting. Consoles are no longer pure gaming devices; in much the same way that Newton demonstrated what a PDA could be, Nokia, Microsoft and Motorola dominated the smartphone OS and hardware sphere, but it was a very small sphere. The iPhone made smartphones the standard device. A matter of timing, widespread internet, data use and so forth.

Well, Pippin previewed the home appliance idea. Ostensibly a games machine, it offered opportunities for online activity through the TV and so forth. Too soon, like Newton.

Now the consumers are used to downloading content, using their TV as an on-demand system, what Apple does well – making things desirable and intuitive – would apply. So perhaps, as the popularity of fairly deep games on iOS has already proven, if you give the developers the market share and tools they WILL come – the barrier to Mac games development historically was simply that the user base wasn’t broad enough to include a significant number of gamers; the development of the PC as a powerful games and the Mac’s “no games” perception is based on some pretty ancient history formed when PCs began to take over from disparate home computers and Macs were expensive and on the decline under some awful management.

In 2007 who would have thought that anyone could knock Nokia sideways. Particularly a manufacturer of relatively unpopular, expensive computers and rigidly limited MP3 players…

Maybe Apple TV – the Television – will not be an iOS device with a simple processor. Maybe it will be something more akin to the multi-core architectures of Xbox and Playstation. Maybe it’ll still have an ARM-core iOS side for the TV/guide/functions, but a lot of processing clout for games.

The more I use my now 6 year old PS3 with its 1TB HD and huge number of ‘free’ games from PSN+, the less I really care that there’s a hardware box there. It could be inside the TV for all I care. And then maybe I’d find the hassle and space of all these Blu-ray and DVD movies annoying, and be used to Cloud storage working, just as Fibre broadband arrives… and instead of a tenner plus petrol plus parking plus waiting for a security tab to be removed, that £7.99 download or monthly subscription looks very appealing. And maybe I could order a pizza on it as well, and play Angry Birds whilst it downloads… controlling it all from my iPad or iPhone. Maybe when I add up the cost of a new-generation console for £400-600, a good quality large smart TV at £1100+, and all the benefits of Apple’s undeniably good industrial design, a cohesive media environment and so forth, the £1499-1999 cost that at first, seems steep, might actually be tolerable.

No doubt this TV will have a camera. And probably, because it’s cheap, location services (for “Find my TV” if it’s stolen, for example). And Facetime. Find my friends? Want to organise a party whilst sat in the living room; send an invite to everyone within a set distance…

It could just be that Apple are going to enter the console market (if you dismiss the idea that they already did with iOS, the iPod Touch and iPhone; I sold my PSP and Game Boy DSi XL because there was no need to carry more than one device) and if they do… it will be as big as when Sony chose to at the end of 1994.

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