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Rumours build on Apple's gaming ambitions

Talk of EA acquisition as Xbox, IBM and AMD execs join iPhone manufacturer

As Apple continues to push its business into the videogaming market, industry watchers are speculating that there are big plans afoot at the iPhone manufacturer.

The Street notes that according to Guy Adami, professional investor and media analyst, "there is chatter that Apple is eyeing Electronic Arts as a takeover target."

Meanwhile, Forbes points to Apple's recent hiring of two key videogame executives as further evidence the company is preparing a bigger entry into handheld gaming following the successful launch and uptake of the iPhone device.

Richard Taversham joins the company from Microsoft, where he was senior director of insights and strategy for Xbox in Europe, in the same week that Bob Drebin, creator of the Nintendo GameCube's graphics processor at AMD, also arrived at the company.

IBMs chip designer Mark Papermaster has also recently joined the company as head of the iPod business.

The report suggests there are three avenues of evolution for the iPhone and iPod devices, including the integration and improvement of video and still images into games.

Last month, ngmoco's Neil Young told GamesIndustry.biz that such access would be ideal to evolve the gaming experience on the iPhone, and the company is already experimenting in anticipation.

"I'd like to get access to the raw video feed out of the camera because I think that could enable some really interesting types of games," he said.

"We've got some games that we're working on that are location based but they need some pieces of functionality to be available to us for them to be really worthwhile."

As well as an upgrade to a faster processor, Apple is also expected to experiment with new iterations of the device, with the same software that powers the iPhone and iPod touch utilised in a netbook or tablet computer.

"Apple has told us from the beginning to be sure to write our new software in a way that will accommodate different resolutions and screen sizes," offered Bart Decrem, CEO of Tapulous, the company behind break-out hit Tap Tap Revenge and its sequel.

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Latest comments (5)

Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.11 years ago
I don't think EA would ever sell to Apple. EA prides itself on its independence from any parent corporation. Being owned by someone else doesn't fit their philosophy very well.

Apples acquisition of a few former key industry people suggests they are wanting to support the gaming division of the iPhone/iTouch as best they can. I don't believe it signals their invasion of the main video game market.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jim Webb on 5th May 2009 5:01pm

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Alex Wright-Manning Head of Recruitment, Splash Damage Ltd11 years ago
There seems to be a big buzz around Apple buying Twitter too. Silly season is upon us.

I believe the acquisition of some key players will strengthen their profile in their current channels, bringing on board more industry knowledge in an area that Apple are making big headway in. It makes sense to bring in some seasoned hands to steady/navigate the ship in what for Apple are traditionally uncharted waters. However it wouldn't surprise me if Apple have something up their sleeve in regards to traditional video games. It's too big a market for them to ignore forever, and it seems to me that digital distribution would be exactly the sort of leftfield non-conformist approach that Apple would get a kick out of.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.11 years ago
I can see them partnering with Nintendo in the next generation to provide the online marketplace. This would give both Nintendo and Apple a means to directly compete against Sony's PSN and MS' Xbox Marketplace.

That role, in my opinion, fits Apple better than any other entry into the traditional gaming market. Nintendo was obviously heavily influenced by Apple with the design and implementation of the DS and Wii.

Apple knows they cannot directly introduce a console (they tried once and failed - The Apple Pippen) this generation or next because retail shelf space is already packed beyond capacity, developers are stretched at resources and publishers are becoming skittish with their money supporting nearly a dozen platforms already.

I believe they could make more money partnering with someone and sharing their slice of the revenue pie than trying to carve out their own slice.
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Alex Wright-Manning Head of Recruitment, Splash Damage Ltd11 years ago
If anyone knows how to carve out a slice of the 'revenue pie' - it's Apple. If someone had told you five years ago that Apple would change the landscape of the mobile phone market to such an extent that the traditional market leader - Nokia - would see their profits shortened to the tune of 90%, you'd have laughed them off.

I remember the Apple Bandai Pippin very well, I actually bought one about two years ago to add to my collection of retro machines (awful geek I know - is it me or does it remind anyone else of the original Xbox?). Ill conceived, no software, confused positioning - a case of too many cooks. But let's be honest the Apple of yesteryear made a many bold move that went wrong (Newton anyone?), now we look back on them they were way ahead of their time, but their infrastructure and global position were not what they are today.

With the rise of digital distribution, publishers will become less important and I envisage a host of DD style gaming platforms. Who's to say Apple, with their established brand and manufacturing ability, as well as huge success with the App store couldn't be leading that particular field in five years time? I wouldn't bet against it.....

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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.11 years ago
They could do that but they'd limit themselves being DD only to such an extent that they'd be a small player in the field dominated by the Big 3.

They don't have an internal development team so their reliance on 3rd parties are not going to carry them well on a 4th home console given how thin they are stretched supporting the current 3 home consoles plus PC, plus DS, plus PSP, plus PS2, plus iPhone/iTouch, plus other mobile devices.

In 3-4 years, when generation 8 hits, not even the Big 3 will rely so heavily on DD. Certainly it will be more integrated with retail SKU's (a DD version for every boxed title) but the majority of their sales will still come from boxed media.

I didn't expect Apple to reduce Nokia's dominance so verily nor did many see the same for Nintendo with the DS and Wii...however, just as with the iPhone, DS and Wii a market existed that was not being heavily targeted which allowed all 3 products to dominate those segments. Apple's second round at a home console will likely not cover a segment with such a wide open market. DD is already being covered by PC and consoles and will continue even more so in the next generation. Because their expertize, what propelled them to fame with the iPod and iPhone, is already a segment being targeted in the home video game market, I cannot foresee them finding a better ground on their own compared to a partnership that would allow them to ply their trade with an existing brand and market owner.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jim Webb on 5th May 2009 7:51pm

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