Will Apple Be The Next Big Name in Gaming? (Part 1) - What the pippin meant for apple

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Apple and gaming are two words that generally do not mix. Since the days of the original Macs, Apple has been slow to embrace the traditional gaming model. In fact, the company has been playing catch up with the Windows platform as far as PC gaming is concerned. Apple has had little success in the home console realm as well. The company paired with Bandai to release Pippin in 1995, but the console was deemed a failure.

Description: Will Apple Be The Next Big Name in Gaming?

It featured a 66MHz PowerPC microprocessor, 6MB of system and video RAM, a 4X CD-ROM drive, a 14.4k modem, two serial sports, a PCI expansion slot, support of ADB keyboards and mice, 8-bit and 16-bit video support, a controller in the shape of a boomerang, and a runtime environment derived for Mac OS.

The console was released at a time when Japanese consoles still dominated the gaming world – remember, the Xbox didn’t exist yet. Apple didn’t position its console as a direct competitor to Sega’s and Nintendo’s offerings. It was positioned as a multimedia console and almost like a computer that connects to your TV set. It was also heavily marketed for Web browsing, but only offered a 14.4k modem and relied on PSINet as its ISP that came with a $ 25 monthly fee. Consumers may have been confused about what it actually was meant for. Around this time the industry was shifting with a lot of heavy competitors entering the gaming sphere. The Sony Playstation was also released around this time with some multimedia capabilities and successful developer support. Apple had entered the market at the worst possible time.

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Another reason the Pippin failed was that Apple never really supports products such as its iDevices today. Instead of keeping the console propriety and locked into Apple’s ecosystem, it choose to license it to Bandai. This was unlike Sony, Nintendo and Sega – companies that fully supported their consoles in term of both hardware and software.

There were many other reasons this console failed. For one, it lacked any software support outside of Bandai’s – who was Apple’s manufacturing partner of the gaming system at the time. Its $ 599 price tag at launch was also quite steep for the time. As you may recall, this cost almost killed the Playtation 3, which came with a Blu-ray player and launched a lot later than the Pippin – so even considering inflation Pippin’s retail price was astronomical.

What the pippin meant for apple

Description: What the pippin meant for apple

Despite its failure, the console taught Apple a lot about the console gaming world. Its failure is probably one of the main reasons Apple is so leery of entering this market, which is dominated heavily by brand name and exclusive software that needs to be acquired from publishers at expensive costs. Apple has never truly been a major software powerhouse. The company’s competencies have traditionally been on producing innovative hardware and letting developers have a go at it without having to acquire exclusive rights or purchase first party software houses. This what could hold Apple back from venturing into the home console world, at least in the traditional sense.

Even with Apple’s current apprehension with creating an iConsole, the company has succeeded in capturing the mobile gaming market, and it looks as if this will include portable gaming as a whole. Apple does not need to create software for the iDevices as the ecosystem is so attractive to developers – and the entry costs of development on the platform are so low – that it can sit back and watch the platform take over market shares on its own.

There are now major players from the console world creating software on the App Store. Take Rockstar and its ports of full console games like Max Payne and Grand Theft Auto III. Even owners of the Sony Vista and Nintendo 3DS would like such entries on their sustems, yet Rockstar decide to release them first on the App Store. Yes, they are ports, bit for the first time gamers can experience them portably. Starfox 64 and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarine of Time were also “enhanced” ports and were met great enthusiasm by portable gamers. Now Apple is taking some of that enthusiasm away with awesome titles and ports of its own from big names in the gaming world.

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