Magazine debunks Apple game handheld, hints iPhone games

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Claims that Apple is developing a gaming system of its own are false, according to a games development magazine, but the electronics firm is also reportedly willing to bring games to the iPhone and iPod touch.

Despite speculation in recent days that Apple might develop a gaming handheld based on a company trademark obtained for dedicated gaming systems, the Cupertino, Calif.-based firm has no plans in the near future to produce a gaming console of its own, says an alleged source speaking to European game industry magazine Develop.

Instead, the iPod remains the "gateway" for all of Apple's gaming efforts, the contact says. Marketing is said to be one of the primary motivations, as discussions between the company and third-party software teams reveals that the device maker wants to avoid diluting its brand with risky new products.

"Apple is very protective of the reputation it has built in the electronics market," the reported insider says.

From a technical standpoint, the company also purportedly sees the iPod as "powerful enough" for games. The OpenGL ES (Embedded Systems) software library at the heart of modern click wheel iPods is efficient enough for Apple's aims that it doesn't need a faster device, according to the tip.

Apple is under little pressure to change its existing business model for games, which revolves around granting a handful of top-tier game producers such as EA and PopCap enough access to develop games sold through iTunes. Feedback from these partners is said to be very positive, with Sega having praised the content delivery system in a recent issue of MCV magazine.

The source suggests that Apple would rather expand its existing game library for iPods — and add games to the iPhone and iPod touch. The tipster does not directly confirm development of games for the two touchscreen devices, however. To date, both premium handhelds have largely been excluded from Apple's fledgeling gaming efforts due to their incompatibility with older iPods' operating systems and their radically different control schemes.

Whether Apple will officially expand its game development and include native games for the iPhone is unknown, though more light is likely to be shed on the possibilities when Apple unveils details of its iPhone Software Development Kit later this month.


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