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Briefly: Apple TV and gaming; Piles; Apple VP Johnson adds to fortune

The creator of Xbox Live Arcade, now employed by one of Apple's gaming allies, has let it slip that Apple TV is a future platform for the casual gaming market. Meanwhile, Apple is still sorting through a potential "piles" interface for Mac OS X. And would you know it? The company's retail chief has reaped nearly $50 million from stock options and grants in just over two years.

Apple TV's future as a casual gaming platform

PopCap Games, the first authorized iPod game developer, has reportedly lured Microsoft's Greg Canessa to head up its console and handheld divisions as the vice president of video game platforms.

In an interview with Wired, Canessa, who gave birth to Xbox Live Arcade during his time at Microsoft, singled out Apple TV as a platform he expects to embrace casual gaming over the next five years.

As part of his new position, Canessa said he will be "taking the stable of franchises and games out of PopCap's studio and adapting, customizing it for different platforms —adding multiplayer, new play modes, HD, customizing the user interface and display for Zune, ipod, Apple TV, Nintendo DS, PSP."

"[Casual games] are going to continue to grow into non-core demographics," he added. "This is relevant as it pertains to devices that are not currently earmarked as gaming devices: mobile, set-top boxes, Apple TV, MP3 players and other devices in the home that will reach the non-gamer—  people who don’t think they want to play."

Apple's still sorting through "piles"

Meanwhile, a recent Apple patent filing turned up by MacNN suggests that Apple has yet to abandon its "piles" software interface concept that it first conceived back in 1991.

Essentially, piles would offer a visual representation of a stack of files in the Mac OS X Finder, similar to a stack of papers on a desk. Unlike with folders, users would be able to approximate the number of files in the pile by simply viewing its representative height on the Desktop.

To find a specific file in a pile, a user drag the top of the pile upwards and then cascade through the stack, viewing a thumbnail of each document along the way.

Apple Piles

Apple retail chief livin' large

Over in Cupertino, Apple senior vice president of retail Ron Johnson recently added to his multi-million dollar fortune by exercising options to buy and then sell 130,000 shares of Apple stock.

According to regulatory filings first discovered by Macworld UK, Johnson purchased the shares at $23.72 each on February 2nd, at a cost of $3,083,600. The Apple retail chief then sold that clutch of shares at prices between $84.36 and $84.50 the same day, turning a profit of nearly $8 million.

In May of last year, Johnson exercised a similar allotment of 150,000 options for a profit of approximately $7 million. That followed a gain of $22.6 million from 750,000 shares in October of 2005, and nearly $10 million from the exercise of 300,000 options in November of 2004.