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Apple retail promoting laptop-style iPad keyboards, iOS game controllers in hardware push

Apple Store in San Francisco, via Harry McCracken.

With the hardware ecosystem surrounding Apple's mobile devices continuing to grow, the company has chosen to place the spotlight some of the laptop-style iPad keyboards and iOS gaming controllers it offers at its retail locations.

A set of tables devoted to third-party iPad keyboards and gaming controllers was spotted by Harry McCracken, who posted the above picture of the San Francisco store display on his official Twitter account. The tech journalist noted that Apple has "gotten as serious as it can about this iPad keyboard thing," without actually making its own official hardware.

Apple initially did offer a keyboard and dock dedicated solely for the first-generation iPad. Since then, the company has continued to offer its Bluetooth keyboard, but that accessory is also compatible with Macs, PCs and other devices.

What's unique about the setup at the Apple Store in San Francisco is that all of the keyboards shown are laptop-style configurations, allowing the iPad to be used much like a traditional notebook PC or MacBook. Apple has never offered an accessory of this type on its own, but a huge market for such devices has sprung up around the touchscreen tablet.

There has been speculation that Apple could offer its own "convertible" style iPad with a new 12-inch model rumored to debut this year. But to date, most of the rumors have focused on the iPad itself, and not any possible accessories.

Also showcased at the San Francisco Apple Store is a row of iOS-compatible gaming controllers. Those accessories were made possible in 2013 by the release of iOS 7, but initial controllers were generally found to be too costly and featured subpar hardware.

But more recent efforts at Made for iPhone and iPad controllers have seen lower prices and better construction. Some of those offered at Apple's stores include the Moga Rebel and the SteelSeries Stratus XL.