Forget the pure iTV: Why gaming could be Apple's next big thing
To understand, where I'm coming from, let's take a look at the big picture that Apple provides us for now:
They have iOS with iPhone/iPod/iPad.
They have the Mac App Store, and Steam warmed up to OS X as well in recent history.
They have a nice little thingy called the Apple TV.
So, there were wild speculations up front when there was a rumor about Apple and a gaming console. "Angry Birds on the big screen? No way!" Besides, everyone seemed to think that the App Store with its 900,000+ apps would convert seamlessly to the big TV - but there's no way that's gonna happen. Touch-intensive games like XCOM, KOTOR and any kind of match-3-game would kill it on a big screen, maybe even controlled via remote. Nope.
Then there came the speculations about an iTV, with a 46-inch touchscreen and stuff like that. Seriously? The more I read, the more i shook my head in disgust. That wasn't the way Apple could approach a market like that. In every forum, there was always that one argument. "Angry Birds on TV? Never." So everyone just sort of agreed that there had something to happen; something had to change. With iOS 7, this change finally happened.
So, now there's a lot of huzzah out there. "MFi controller support, yay, but I still don't want to play Angry Birds, even with a dedicated controller! Not on my iPad, not on my TV!" Somehow, first controller blueprints showed up featuring many buttons (four shoulder buttons, four face buttons, and so forth), logically there is the need or possibility for more complex games.
Well, there's more to that story. We shouldn't forget something crucial to this mix: OS X as well as iOS share a lot of UNIX stuff under the hood, that is widely known. More often than not Apple pointed out that the core programming is the same: Core Animation, Cocoa, XCode, iCloud - there is a lot of synergy when developing for Apple platforms. And it doesn't stop there:
They also have a humming developer community, vibrant as ever, they're just waiting for the chance to splurge in yet another market for making $$$, gaining traction in the ever-changing business and of course bring joy to another subset of gamers. Plus, every developer out there already knows how to make apps for OS X and iOS.
Apple also regards, as pointed out by Tim Cook, the TV space as an area with immense potential, so they're interested in that.
What in the world could Apple stop from setting up another App Store, let's call it TV App Store for conveniences sake, and shake up the gaming industry like it did before with music, phones and tablets? And now to the point that really matters:
We don't need Angry Birds on the TV App Store.
We would be playing real, console-like games, because Apple would have a console. Have another read: Lots of developers, already familiar with coding apps, now MFi controller support, and a not-too-dismissable amount of Apple TVs already out in the wild. Some called for an App Store for the Apple TV already, but Apple still refrains and just keeps adding new features to their hobby. What about the horsepower? Well, when the iPad with Retina Display came out, we were told by Apple and maths that the new iPad featured over 1 million more pixels than your average full HD TV at home. And just remember: The iPad 4th gen with its A6X processor can display a lot of eye candy on this awesome resolution without even stuttering. Somehow, games like Modern Combat 4/5, Infinity Blade 2, Sky Gamblers and so on manage to impress even without the use of heavy shaders, DirectX and all that jazz. Great graphics on a display that pushes over 1 million more pixels than your TV set at home.
Skip forward one or two generations: Let's assume the A7X doubles the performance of the A6X, and the A8X doubles the performance of the A7X. All that horsepower, and then you'd actually lower the resolution from a whopping 2048x1536 to a still-impressive 1920x1080 (impressive because of the distance you hopefully have when watching TV or gaming). Then, a new Apple TV set comes out that can connect to any existing TV set with HDMI input, you're getting an Apple certified controller, and boom! Lots of power that impressed us on iPad before, now available via Apple TV on your 1920x1080 screen, so the performance should be even better.
Given that Apple is indeed working on a unified controller or a scheme that 3rd party controllers should comply with, suddenly it makes much sense why Apple is treating Apple TV still like a hobby. They just seem to wait until the technology (read: their custom ARM chips) is ready, and then they have a huge opportunity at hand, just like that. And when everything just aligns (TV negotiations done, chips powerful enough, panel sizes feasible and reasonably priced), then we'd have our iTV with an all-integrated experience. And heck, because Apple can, they'd just throw some sort of 5.1 virtualization in the mix, just like Philips did with their SoundBar stuff. Most people know surround sound only because it's in cinemas, so that would be a great differentiator as well, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
Developers who are comfortable with iOS and Mac suddenly have another great option to develop for, and because it's Apple, they'd have some great devs/publishers right from the beginning. EA comes to mind, Gameloft, Namco, SEGA and all the big ones (except for Nintendo, 'course) could demo real gaming on an Apple device, presumably the small, under-estimated Apple TV 4th gen. Steam games which were adapted to controller support and Big Screen Mode, running under OS X? Then, with a small amount of fiddling, you'd have that game on the TV App Store, too. And, bonus point: With a new TV App Store, no one has to wade through the crowded, current 900,000+ apps-filled App Store. The battleground would be leveled, and whenever a dev team decides to develop a game for PC, the port to Mac (and, in turn, to the new TV App Store platform) would become even more intriguing. That would help the currently still-sorry state of Mac gaming, too.
So, end of my thoughts. Now yours are welcome: Too much wish-thinking, or sounds that just about right? Tell me!