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Friday, December 12, 2008, 04:45 pm PT (07:45 pm ET)

Apple declares iPhone a challenger to Nintendo DS

Further shifting attention on the iPhone towards gaming, an Apple executive has out-and-out stated the device is a genuine competitor to the best handheld consoles on the market.

The comments come from Apple Director of Technology Evangelism John Geleynse, who witnesses for Engadget say made the aggressive claims at an iPhone Tech Talk in San Jose, near the company's Cupertino headquarters.

At the developer gathering, the official urged developers to forget about the handset as a traditional cellphone and, as game developers, to think of it strictly as a game console.

"It's not a phone, it's a console experience," Geleynse is reported as saying.

While a bold statement, the claim is in line with an increasingly gaming-centric marketing strategy at Apple. Virtually all of the electronics firm's video ads for the second-generation iPod touch have focused on gaming, while the majority of paid apps at the App Store have typically been games.

Other parties are also known to be getting involved as well. Electronic Arts on Friday said it will host special events at flagship Apple retail stores in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco during December to promote the iPhone and iPod touch as gaming platforms and show off the software company's game library.

Apple hasn't necessarily needed to ask for help to position its touchscreen handhelds as gaming devices, though, and has been achieving similar or better sales than offerings from Nintendo or Sony. Nintendo recently touted NPD Group data noting that it sold a near-record 1.56 million DS handhelds during November, but is likely to be outpaced by Apple's iPhone sales alone: in summer, the company sold 6.9 million iPhones, or an average of 2.3 million cellphones per month.

In a presentation, id Software co-founder John Carmack also spoke of the fast ARM processor and PowerVR graphics in the iPhone and iPod touch as technically superior to either the DS or Sony's PSP, likening it more to Sega Dreamcast performance than the scaled-down hardware of Apple's freshly established rivals.