Apple’s iPhone to take on Nintendo?

A report in the

New York Post

today claims that Apple is secretly gearing up to push its iPhone – and perhaps its new Apple TV device – as gaming platforms.

Taking last week’s furore over Nintendo filing for a patent for a motion-sensitive DS-style device as its queue, the article cites "various on- and off-the-record sources" as claiming "Apple has been secretly plotting its foray into portable video games for months, looking to add games to its hot iPhone".

"I was told that a major game developer was seeded with iPhone [technology] quite some time ago," comments’s EIC Kasper Jade.

The NYP also adds: "Apple is expected to make a gaming announcement soon, ‘by Macworld in January at the latest,’ says editorial director Peter Rojas".

The piece also says that the Apple TV device has game functionality built in – although that perhaps stems from reports earlier this year when the device was released which pointed out that the iTunes reliant machine incorporated some of the same compatibility code use to connect the software to the iPod. Apple explicitly states on the Apple TV site that "iPod games will not play on Apple TV".

The iPod itself became gaming compliant with a software update in September last year, with Video iPods able to download a selection of games from iTunes. But Apple has kept the portfolio tightly controlled. Titles from EA, PopCap and Apple itself (many of them casual oriented or remakes of classics like Bejewelled) have been available since launch, with just one or two added to the line-up since – such as a Lost tie-in from Gameloft released in May, and a new music quiz game Musika from Parappa the Rapper creator Matsuya Matsuura, released last week.

At the time, Apple told Develop that iPod games development was to remain closed to developers with no publically available SDK, and that games functionality would always be secondary to the device’s primary function – music playback.

Similar comments were made when the iPhone was unveiled in January.

Possibly, the strategy may be changing now that the iPhone has been released, with the device pitched as a multi-function device with iPod, cell phone and more complex Mac computer-related functionality under the hood of a advance touch-screen driven device.

Some developers, including PopCap, have already utilised the phone’s web-browser to run games. And the company has slightly widened the spotlight on games overall in recent months; announcements by both Electronic Arts and independent US studio id formed parts of the keynote at June’s Apple developer conference.

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