"The DMG Ice State of the Handhelds Address 1: Apple"
-By Philip Wesley-
-Really the one we want.-
-Posted February 8, 2010-
|This place is pretty dusty
and covered in horrible cobwebs from forgotten spiders that seem to
have vanished with the recent activity here at DMG Ice. What activity
could we possibly be talking about? A lot of strange behind the scenes
stuff and a few updates of our various "tendrils" like the DMG Ice
Youtube Channel, our frequent Twitter updates, and frequent Site
Utility Links like our PSN List and DSi Ware List. We will continue to
expand on those "product tendrils" and debut new content on the web
site throughout this year with more coverage of events and special
articles. That is why I am pleased to be here today with our first
"State of the Union Address" this February. February is a special
month, because it marks the Official Anniversary of DMG Ice. I would
like to take this moment to bring forth a quick status update on the
handheld industry that we know and love. In an effort to be fair and
balanced in our coverage, I am dividing this address into four parts.
The parts will focus on a significant company and their handheld
performance currently in a critical and forward looking way. This
forward looking way means that I will be both critical and I will
suggest a course of action for each and every one of these companies.
The first company I wish to focus on is a bit of a controversial one. That company is Apple and I want to focus on their current "third pillar" approach to the handheld market. Steve Jobs, in the recent keynote that announced their iPad product, lists the three pillars of Apple as their iPhone/iPods, iPad, and their Mac Book products. Apple has touted their iTunes store for Music, iPod Touch/iPhone/iPad Applications, video content, and productivity content like their Safari Web Browser. A quick side note to Steve Jobs: I update this web site off of a Netbook and it works just fine. Even iTunes works just great on the vibrant 10 inch screen and 160GB hard drive. I am even able to connect it to a portable hard drive for even more additional content. When playing video, I can watch it on the screen or hook up an HDMI cable. It's fairly light, has a good battery life, and uses every format. I can even run Torchlight or games like Starcraft on it with an optional CD/DVD drive. It is a pretty nice device and I could almost call it "magical" if I were to be a bit daft. I am not here to discuss my netbook in this address. Instead, I am here to comment on three of Apples products: The iPod Touch, the iPhone, and the iPad.
Calling the iPod Touch and the iPhone a game platform is a bit of a marketing stretch. Unlike the PSP, PSP Go, Nintendo DS, and the Nintendo DSi; the Apple handhelds are not truly game centric in a traditional way. Steve Jobs has a magical quote from Wayne Gretzky that he likes to pull out of his magical brain and this is that quote: "I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been." It would seem that Steve Jobs and I certainly agree on Blue Ocean Strategy to an extent. Which is why i am not going to comment in depth on the Apple Mac Books. In fact, I think that they are the "third pillar" that needs to be scrapped. Those are a "past" device and there is another way to go that I will get into later in this article. The Apple Mac Book is not a legitimate handheld gaming platform.
The iPod and iPhone have some severe problems as gaming devices. These well documented problems are a lack of buttons and a lack of visible space when you play a touch based game. There is a key reason why the Nintendo DS launched with buttons and Apple would be wise to release an add-on that adds a few basic buttons for those of us who game frequently. I honestly believe that the real reason we do not have an official button clip-on device is egotism. The iPad has a chance to rectify all of that in the future. Apple has done a good job in promoting the App Store and many companies have used the iPhone as a wonderful testing ground for their games like Fieldrunners, and Flight Control. Both of which are making their way to DSiWare and PSP Mini formats as well. There is also the matter of games and apps being incompatible between the various formats. This inconsistency is a bit annoying because it holds back developers looking to make the best possible product. This is what has happened with PC games in the past and the iPhone/iPod Touch market will face this problem as more devices and device revisions occur.
Why is the iPad a great step forward? I will tell you this by telling you about a weird dream I had a few years back. In this dream, I was teaching a history class in a futuristic school. I sat down at the main table and then moved my hands on a screen in the desk to drag the homework and assignments that I wanted to assign to a folder. Then I slid the folder forward toward the class room. The students received the folder on the screens on their desks. The folder contained a video lecture, questions to answer, and other course materials. Then everyone reached at the top of the screen in the desk, pulled it out and put them in their backpacks. I then picked up my screen and took it to the main office, walking past a weird cold fusion room and into the cafeteria. I used the screen to order food before I got to the cafeteria. After getting my food, I sat down with the screen and watched a news report. During the news report, I could circle images to magnify them or bring up additional information on them. Then I heard there was a problem with the Black Hole powered Cold Fusion engine that ran the schools electricity. So, I tapped the alert for it and went to go look at the engine. After fixing the engine, I went to the car dock, placed my screen in a public dock, tapped a few on-screen buttons, and my car was delivered to where I stood. Yes, I am aware that it was a pretty weird dream that may have had something to do with Minority Report. It does make my point a little easier to explain on the iPad.
I think the future of the iPad is the ability to dock the unit. The iPad is a multi-media device that could be a very powerful step forward in gaming as a whole. This is not a pure handheld device or a tablet. The iPad is a truly portable console and the first of its kind. The screen and the ability to dock the unit is the key here. Apple needs to take a look at their failed products like the Apple Mac Mini and the Apple TV. Think about how to use these on the iPad and then literally steal the idea behind Sony Remote Play. An iPad home dock would be wonderful if it allowed the user to do exactly what Sony has gotten right with the Sony PSP/PSP Go and what Microsoft got right on the Zune. Apple should make a dock that allows you to hook up extra items like a CD/DVD drive, camera, keyboard, controller, and more storage. Apple should also use the Blue Tooth for something other than headsets this time! We want to be able to use Air Play, file sharing, printing, or being able to hook up a controller to the iPad! Imagine the great stuff that could be accomplished game wise with this ability. A separate dock and CD/DVD drive would allow game developers to make even larger applications for the iPad that would be only for when it was docked. The dock could be used to store photos, music, videos, and unused applications. The ability to share photos, music samples, video samples, and App demos via the Blue Tooth feature would be worth looking into as well. There should be official applications for this feature from Apple and not third party applications. The iPad has the potential to be a great home console that also plays on the go. The iPad, via docking, could be a wonderful device for that reason. Why should we have touch screen and gyrometer only games when we could dock that sucker and use a blue tooth controller in an FPS or proper fighting game? A proper CD/DVD drive dock would allow people to physically purchase larger applications for the iPad. This would also help ease that sector of the customer base that is still allergic to digital only media. The add on market has done wonders for Nintendo and I think Apple should look into it as well. If Apple is truly serious on making this device something magical, they are going to have to step it up a little. The best way to step it up would be to dock the device. Additional items that would be amazing in a docked situation would be proper 1Seg support, Visualizations for music, the ability to watch items saved in MKV, AVI, and other formats that are saved on the dock, and the ability to hook that iPad up to a TV while playing some of those games.
The future could be amazing for Apple if they did that with the iPad. As for the iPhone and the iPod Touch? Those are pretty good handhelds but they seriously need some more options for game control than the touch screen and gyrometer. Let me be clear, what I think of the Apple handheld family is that it is wandering in the desert and it needs Moses to come down and hand them a "tablet" of some sort. There are a few more ideas that I will mention in the fourth address that pertain to Apple as well. The next one up is Nintendo, followed by Sony. See you very soon, my captive readers!
-Would you like to go to the Ice Block Entrance, Library Entrance, or the Main Entrance?
-Philip Wesley 2010-
-Sora is a trademark of SquareEnix and no endorsement of DMG Ice.com or SquareEnix by either company is meant or implied.-
-Philip is property of Sarah Tomase-
-Property of dmgice.com-