The iControlPad project seems to have fizzled out, so another group is trying to bring the dream of a hardware iPhone button-based controller to life. Controller or Bust is a new project trying to move through the long list of steps required to get a hardware controller into production. The blog is the work of Benjamin Morisse, who is looking for all kinds of help from the community to get an actual controller off the ground. "This is ridiculous," he writes. "The iPhone was introduced over three years ago and there still isn't a game controller peripheral available to the masses. I've seen several prototypes that have kicked around the internet for some time now, but nobody has stepped up to the plate and actually delivered." All true, and Morisse hopes to change that himself.
One big issue is getting approved by Apple -- in order to run a peripheral that actually connects to the iPhone hardware, the project will have to be approved in the "Made for iPhone/iPad" program, and that's been the biggest obstacle for developers so far. But Morisse is working on that already, along with iterating on product designs, so hopefully he'll accomplish that goal quickly.
In the meantime, we'll wait and see. There's certainly a demand for such a device at a reasonable price -- Steve Jobs may not like buttons, but most gamers do, so the first actual production device to go on sale in this market will probably find plenty of buyers.