First, Apple is picking up game execs and console chip makers left and right. Second is a whole slew of recent patents, for everything from mixing up media and game environments to management of games acquired from a media server. And third, though BNET doesn't actually connect the dots and say it, we will: Apple is sitting on what might be the best library of independent games anywhere, and it's sitting right in front of us in iTunes' App Store.
For years, console makers have depended on the mercy of publishers to keep their hardware going -- they sell the hardware at a loss, and then rely on the software sales and licensing to make it all back up again. But think of what Apple could do here: improve the AppleTV or Mac Mini, throw in some kind of Wii-like interface, and then break the whole thing open in the same way they did with the App Store: let developers in with a really low cost of entry, give them the tools they need to create solid games, and just take a nice cut from all of the tiny transactions flowing back and forth.
BNET claims that the iPhone's interface wouldn't work on a larger console, but why not? All Apple has to do is figure out a way to translate the iPhone's gestures and taps into a console system, and then they can practically run the games natively. Sure, the resolution would be a little low with a straight port, but that's a small problem to fix. Apple already has the makings of a game console with the iPod touch, and while the rumors may still just be rumors, there's never been a better time for them to leverage what they've already got.