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iPod, The Gaming Console

Posted by: Olga Kharif on October 9, 2005

Although it’s a near-certainty that Apple will soon introduce a video iPod, many analysts are wondering why exactly anyone would want a digital music player that can also play video files. I mean, would someone really want to carry around a home video of a family vacation in Florida?

Actually, a video iPod makes a lot of sense if considered in the following light: With this product, Apple is edging into the portable gaming console market.

Portable gaming is huge. Nintendo DS was a hit. So has been pretty much every other major-brand portable gaming console that's come out in the past few years. Interest in video games is on the rise. Video gaming is more mainstream nowadays. Lots of users like playing on the go.

Apple, with its tremendous brand -- particularly amidst the same geeks who like playing video games -- could make inroads into that market fast. Sony, Nintendo, beware!

Even if Apple makes a few simple games available on its video iPod, that could lay a good foundation for entering mobile gaming as well as the portable gaming markets.

Reader Comments

Brian Francosky

October 9, 2005 2:15 AM

Apple couldn't make their flagship personal computer a viable gaming machine. With Sony's PSP in the market for the same price, I don't see how Apple could fit more expensive hardware into their current portable machine and keep it anywhere around a respectable price range. FMV on the iPod? Perhaps. Some people might enjoy watching their Lost or Spider-Man 2 on the iPod. However, that doesn't seem to be helping the PSP sell units so don't count on the iPod become the movie-in-your-hands player that analysts keep thinking it will become.

carl mcqueen

October 9, 2005 6:41 AM

The issue still remains with battery life and play-ability. I'm not sure if you've tried playing the current ipod games but playing a game on a circle is more than difficult it's annoying and you watch as the battery life just flies downward.

The innovation in compact memory is getting better and better but the battery market still seems to be holding back these things.

Carlos Ariza

October 10, 2005 6:15 PM

The cost of entry into the portable player market also presents a massive hurdle for Apple. A portable game system is only as good as the games available for the unit, and without the massive cost of getting all the mayor game makers like EA sports onboard the until will be a failure.

The name Apple and iPod alone mean nothing when it comes to the discriminate gamer the device would target.

Just look at what happened with the Nokia N-Gadge or the Palm Zodic (Palm is so embarrassed by the failure of this devise that it doest even appear on the support section of their website)

Apple will find a business model selling TV shows that will play on a video iPod. Just look at how well DVD sales of old TV shows are selling. Movies will become available down the road. The video iPod will also integrate nicely with Apples iMovie and emerging independent video Podcast.

my two cents


October 10, 2005 6:29 PM

That is one of the most out there theories I have heard. Why would Apple want to get into the game industry? At least when the iPod came out, there was iTunes and Napster. If ANYTHING like this happens, it is at least 5-7 years down the road, when intel macs are making gaming easier and up to date on the mac. Until then, solitaire is the best we get.


October 10, 2005 7:11 PM

i think if apple really wants to dominate anything with video, it would be with a media pc the size of the apple mini that would hook up to your cable box/flat-screen tv.

downloadable movies, yes, games, maybe. like the other poster stated, they would really have to play catch-up to become a portable gaming platform provider.


October 10, 2005 8:47 PM

Brian Francosky said that video doesn't seem to help the PSP sell units. Well brian, UMD's (PSP's version of the DVD) are selling like hotcakes !! Sony released the figures last month and some UMD movies are selling faster than their DVD cousins...especially in Japan (where I live).

Video is important here because a lot of people travel. Two-plus hours to work on the train and want to do something more than fall asleep or read.


October 11, 2005 9:16 AM

I think this is a nonsense theory. Apple would be nuts to try and compete with a well established gaming market with a tiny-screened mp3 player. A point you may notice about apple products is they don't try to add more bells and whistles to their products, they just make sure they work elegantly and simply. I rate the chances of what you are proposing as less than 1%.


October 11, 2005 11:14 AM

To think that Apple will make an Video Ipod is absurd to say the least.
BW should do it's research to find out a few things before making such outlandish statements.
One the sales of Personal Video Players/Portable DVD players has been less than 1.0 million units world wide.
Sales of Large screen TV's has only gone up and is growing.
Watching movies is not the same as listening to music.
In the Wireless communications world you already see the gimmicks of the Wireless carriers to offer video on their phones. The Marginal cost to offer such a service is nominal and hence they can put the marketing behind such services. It would be interesting to see how much of a revenue increase the carrier shave gotten by touting such features and if their is any content worthy of the pricing.
Apple's Ipod's have the capability to play video, they just have not been turned on in the firmware, the reasons as explained above why they have'nt turned it on.
Analysts may want to think of the various ways things may play out for the Ipod but the reality is in the numbers.
Apple may announce a larger drive capacity in a slimmer form factor tomorrow.

JustAworking Stiff

October 11, 2005 4:33 PM if we don't have enough distractions. I'm a babyboomer so that kind of stuff -- watching videos on an ipod--wouldn't appeal to me, and I doubt if the young'uns that Apple is appealing to would want it either. They have enough gadgets.

Brian Francosky

October 11, 2005 11:42 PM

Just a quick response to Chris. While Sony has said their UMD sales have been doing well, we have to check out the sales after the PSP launch and post-launch sales margin out. Sure, Spider Man 2 was a great success, but that won't be what makes the PSP movie market. Even if it does, it still doesn't change the point of the overall post--that right now there wouldn't be any reasonable outlook that the iPod will be any chance of success being a movie or game portable.


October 13, 2005 7:21 AM

well in hindsight; not that outlandish that Apple would launch a video playing iPod ;-)

to use that wheel for games, however, would be too annoying a task even for an avid gamer like myself. Like one poster said; nokia didn't manage; they were laughed away. and playing on a phone would still be easier/more fun than on an iPod


October 13, 2005 11:35 AM

I've said it before....and I'll say it one last time. Open up your checkbooks and get those apple stocks under your belt because 5 years from now you'll be glad you did. There doesn't even need to be games for it. Watch the market as it as we slowly buy more ipods and soon develop urges to download our favorite shows the day after instead of watching it on television when we could be doing something more important during that time.....

Bob Harold

October 15, 2005 11:31 AM

I think Apple will make a gaming console like their fellow counter part microsoft it will be a hurdle for them but eventually they will it is all a matter of time.

Matt Murphy

November 1, 2005 3:34 PM

It's an interesting arguement that you pose, but I think whether or not Apple attempts to enter the gaming market with its iPod is irrelevant. Although they are all the rage now, iPods in the next few years, along with other similar mp3 devices, will take a back seat to a much more useful, ubiquitous, and all-encompassing product: the cell phone. Apple even knows this, or else it would not have partnered with Motorola last month to produce an iTunes cell phone. Mobile handsets already have mp3, video, and gaming capabilities, albeit not as advanced as devices dedicated to any one of those in particular. In addition to these, they also have imaging, email, and web functions that iPods, portable DVD players, and PSP-type gaming consoles do not possess.

Granted, the much-hyped Motorola RAZR ended up being somewhat of a disappointment when it finally hit the market due to its relative lack of storage space for music files (as compared to the iPod). However, Nokia will be releasing a phone very soon that will be very comparable to the Apple product in terms of music capacity. If you keep up with the mobile industry, you would also be aware of the incredible leaps that mobile gaming has made over even the past few months. Companies such as JAMDAT, Digital Chocolate, and Juice Wireless are taking mobile gaming to new heights, leaving tetris and snake in the dust (although ironically, these two are far more popular). Verizon Wireless' VCast and Cingular's EVDO are pioneer versions of mobile video. The U.S. market is not as mature as many of the European and Asian markets regarding this capability as of yet, but once the early adopters out there start subscribing, it will catch on quickly.

Bottom line, why would anyone want to carry around two devices when one will suffice? Mobile phones will soon be able to do everything from grocery-store checkout to opening your garage door. Unless iPod grows an antenna, there's no reason to even speculate about its movement into a gaming market.

Matt Murphy

November 1, 2005 3:50 PM

In my last comment, I meant to say that Motorola's ROKR, not RAZR, ended up being a slight disappointment. The brand's RAZR phone has done extremely well, and has been responsible for much of the company's success over the past few quarters.


November 15, 2005 5:29 AM

I use iPod for jogging. Of course i wouldn't play games) What i prefer is to have an iPod that woul tune on my spirits. I mean one that can choose what music I would like to hear at the moment.


November 25, 2005 9:02 PM

The whole apple craze is going down, Ipods are losing popularity to more economicly friendly and better featured Portable Media Players.

it would be stupid to buy shares when the company is at it's peak! thats how it works, the go up untill they reach the roof and all of a sudden they crash.

3pm studios

November 29, 2008 1:49 AM

I think it is an amazing gaming device. I wouldn't be surprised if in the next few years that you see more and more kids with an iPod Touch instead of a Nitendo DS.

I recently developed a mix-and-match game based on my preschool son Henry as one of the lead characters. I'm not a professional developer or big company. I am just a mom who wanted to make a game that my three year old son Henry and his preschool pal Hailey could play. I know that my son Henry and his preschool pals love playing on the iPhone.


June 3, 2009 1:56 AM

ha! ALL these people were WRONG!

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Bloomberg Businessweek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, and Douglas MacMillan, dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.



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