As many of you know, I’ve often been critical on these pages of Apple’s inability to fully capitalize on the living room. I’m a firm believer that the company has a real opportunity to be a dominant force in home entertainment, and yet, it hasn’t done anything to prove that. So far, the Apple TV is the best offering it has, and most would agree, that that device is still just a “hobby.”
Exactly why Apple has been so loath to fully double down on the living room is anyone’s guess. Maybe it’s because the company is so focused on mobile products, like the iPad and iPhone. Or perhaps it simply doesn’t see any opportunity in the living room.
However, my guess is that Steve Jobs didn’t see a good reason to chase after the dominance of another space until his company could fully cement its position in the mobile market. What’s more, I’m not convinced that Jobs wanted Apple to be another Sony, offering a host of home-theater products that only some people like.
And while I understand that idea, I do believe that the single product Jobs should have launched is a game console.
The way I see it, the game console is the centerpiece of any home-theater set-up. For many folks, it’s the device they use to watch movies, stream Netflix content, and play games. It’s an all-in-one option.
And yet, during his tenure as CEO at Apple, Jobs never provided any indication that he would try and take on Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo in the gaming space.
But will Tim Cook?
I think he should. Looking around the App Store, it has become abundantly clear that Apple is now, at the very least, a game seller. And at the very most, the company is no different from Nintendo, offering a portable device that lets owners play video games, while relying on third parties to develop those titles.
What’s more, Apple’s devices have been stealing significant market share away from other makers of portable-gaming products, thanks to the average consumer’s desire to pick up their phone, check e-mail, play a few levels in a game, and then place a call.
Given Apple’s success in the mobile gaming space, why shouldn’t Tim Cook want to compete in the living room with a game console? After all, Apple has proven that it understands how to build a gamer-friendly device, it has a marketplace in the App Store to offer digital titles to customers, and it has the cash on hand to develop a device that could set a new standard in the gaming market.
At this point, there’s simply no compelling reason for Apple’s new CEO to not at least consider offering a game console. The video games industry is ready for a new entrant to shake things up and start it on a new path.
Why shouldn’t the Tim Cook-led Apple be that agent of change?