Which Console Company Will An Apple ‘Smart Television’ Kill?

Which Console Company Will An Apple ‘Smart Television’ Kill?

There’s going to be another round of consoles. There’s another Xbox coming, another PlayStation. Anything could happen in the next couple of years before they’re released. For instance, Apple could start selling “smart televisions”.

There have been “Apple TV” rumours for years, even before there was the current bolt-on AppleTV. (Here’s one of today’s.) But now Apple’s a bit of a gaming powerhouse–despite, at times, seemingly not giving much attention to gaming itself (e.g. the smelly old design of Game centre). And while the imagined Apple smart television likely wouldn’t be much more than an LCD panel plus the guts of an AppleTV (which are the guts of the iPad, iPod touch, and iPhone, more or less), it’s entirely possible that a whiz-bang interface–the one that Steve Jobs reportedly “cracked” before he passed away–would draw in a bunch of new users.

New users that might not have a need for a console anymore. Users who can get their casual game fix from iOS games they download from iTunes App Store, sitting on their couch. Users who might use an iPhone or iPad as a controller.

“Traditional” gaming isn’t going to die as long as there are still enough people around who want a dedicated gaming experience. (10 million+, let’s say.) But as I was discussing with some readers at the Kotaku party at Blizzcon, I think it’s very possible this next round of consoles could be the last, especially if Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo don’t fully embrace the capabilities we’ve always wanted from a do-all set top box. That won’t mean just games, but movies and cable television, internet browsing, social interaction–the whole schmear. Heck, Gabe Newell thinks so, too. (Microsoft is heading this way in fits and spurts, but also has a sad history over the last decade of innovating in features but neglecting platforms and branding; still, Xbox is their strongest individual entertainment brand.)

If Apple does throw its hat fully into the living room, the traditional consoles are going to have an even more difficult time getting the penetration they need to achieve the economies of scale on hardware and software-to-hardware sell-through rates that make the console business profitable.

It’s a bit of a surprise that the three console makers have stuck around this long–I don’t see how the market will support four. Nintendo like to brag about being the games company that engineers paradigm shifts. An Apple Smart TV as a games content trojan horse could have the paradigm shift right out from their–and everybody else’s–feet.


  • I would argue here, as I have at other times, that people are overestimating the “gameness” of Apple and where it might develop.

    The Apps available on an iPhone or iPad are pretty cool – cheap, small, easy games that are okay for a bus ride or to kill some time while waiting. They’re awesome for that.

    However, as soon as they try to translate that “popcorn” experience into a “dinner” situation – ie: big TV, lounge room gaming, consoles – I would think that a large number of people who are currently satisfied with their snacks will be unfulfilled.

    Angry Birds is pretty cool. Do I want to spend a weekend sunk into that and Fruit Ninja on a big TV when I have Saints Row 3, Dark Souls, or GT5 waiting to be played? Not for all the money in the world.

    Consoles will always have a place as a dedicated gaming experience, and I think everyone is underestimating exactly what they offer.

    • While a lot of your post sure does describe the iOS games, there are some exception. I’ve been playing Dungeon Hunter 2 recently. It is a full hack’n’slash rpg for the iPhone. I don’t know how many hours I’ve spent playing it already.

      I’d sure love more games like that. I haven’t really found many other games like that. But it does have potential…

      Apart from that I agree. People are overreacting on the potential. I think gaming consoles will stick around for quite a while. The only “threat” I see would be implementing them in TVs in the future, but we saw how that went for DVD players. Not a big success…

    • Although I agree completely with your post – to be fair I do spend an awful lot of time playing Fruit Ninja on a big TV – best Kinect game ever!

      As for Apple they don’t understand games like an M$ exec said a few months back – games have succeeded on the iPhone/iPad IN SPITE of Apple – not because of it.

  • Convergence is going to be king. Handheld consoles are going to be killed by smartphones and television, dvd players, stereos, PC desktops and game consoles will be converged into one device.

    Content is king now. And he who has the most content wins.

    The next set of consoles will all fail… Except apple and google tv. Wireless controllers and keyboards can be made for the old schoolers.

    Why is apple suing samsung and google and not nintendo, m$ or Sony? Because they are it’s biggest threat to the new world.

  • +1 to Zap, Eloquently put.

    I don’t think such a device will kill consoles any more than dvd players and set top boxes do now – they serve different purposes.

    If anything the integration of such features into consoles may take away sales from dedicated media devices.
    After all a console can be a media hub but you can’t turn a media hub into a dedicated gaming machine.

  • If you can kill Halo or Uncharted with angry birds then the may have “killed” a console.

    otherwise apple can keep thier crap.
    and iphone as a controller, i couldnt think of a worse controller, if it had controller support a la ICS then it would have a small chance

  • The articles implying that everyone will go for an apple tv (an actual tv not just the unit) which will also kill samsung, sony, panasonic etc..etc.. I cant see it happening.

    People will not go back a few generations in graphics and get tvs that need to be upgraded every few years just to play games of angry birds caliper.

    They will never be a threat to normal gaming until they can do some of the bigger genres corectly such as MMOs, RPGs and FPS.

  • Apple will kill all, since there TV’s will contain ports that work only for Apple Products only, and because its Apple, People will buy it and when they figure this out they are screwed because they mortgaged there home for a 20 inch TV and there is no refunds.

  • Convergence – or how to market a product with more features than you could ever use, but less functionality than you expect.

    For example: a company releases a ‘Smart TV’ with terrible YouTube application; YouTube changes its method of content delivery; company decides to release a new ‘Smarter TV’ with updated YouTube application, but not release any updates for the older television; everyone must buy a new television.

  • MS and Sony aren’t exactly ignoring the other capabilities of their current-gen consoles. Although web browsing on PS3/Wii still sucks arse for no good reason, PS/360 are very capable for media streaming, have decent content marketplaces and some cool features (such as PS3’s VidZone and “Foxtel on Xbox360”). I can only imagine that future generations will improve further on the (admittedly slow) steps that have already been taken.

    Ever since we’ve been able to change channels, there’s been competition in the living room for who gets to use the screen and for what. It’s not a three-horse race (Nintendo, MS and Sony). All kinds of content and delivery methods, from FTA and PayTV broadcasts to rental DVD/BRDs, dedicated media-players/streaming gadgets to multipurpose gaming consoles and even full-blown HTPCs. Apple will have to provide something particularly compelling for such a product to be worthwhile: the existing AppleTV isn’t exactly their best-seller, and I can vouch for the Mac Mini being a very capable HTPC. Especially with remote control apps for my iDevice; OSX’s iOS-like Launchpad; and the OSX App Store, what could they possibly offer built-in to a TV that the Mac Mini doesn’t already do for me?

  • No-one needs an Apple TV – just plug your PC into your HD screen and get a wireless keyboard with trackball! Even better, network your Xbox360 to your PC and be done with it. But hey, its your money…

  • AppStore games are good for quick burst of fun, but I doubt I’ll play hardcore game on when there is lack of buttons.

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