Will Apple one day soon supplant Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony as the king of the gaming market? ComputerWorld's Jonny Evans makes a good argument for that outcome in his latest column. As portable devices like the iPhone and iPad get increasingly powerful, the games that can be played directly on them are looking better all the time. Just in terms of portable game sales, iOS devices easily beat the Sony PSP in volume and are competitive with, if not beating, long time champion Nintendo.
Looking forward, the horsepower of console systems will likely increase but it may not be enough to help stay afloat. Apple will shortly be rolling out AirPlay which allows media to be sent from the portable device to an Apple TV. There is no reason that AirPlay can't be expanded to include sending games from the iPad screen to the big screen. It's also probable that Apple will add app downloads to the Apple TV itself which could potentially allow the handheld device to simply be the controller.
Services like OnLive are already demonstrating that a fast internet pipe and a server farm can take the place of the local console. Apple still hasn't revealed what it plans to do with its North Carolina data center, but there is no reason why it couldn't support high-end gaming in addition to streaming music and video. It's looking like the Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii may well be the last generation of the traditional gaming console.