Apple unlikely to launch game console before 2015

Posted by Aharon Etengoff

San Francisco (CA) - Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter has told TG Daily that Apple is unlikely to launch a game console before 2015. According to Pachter, Apple is "way behind Microsoft" and may not be able to "ever" catch up.

"Apple has no first party games, so it would start out in distant fourth, behind an installed base of around 40 million Xbox 360s (assuming a fall 2010 launch), 30 million PS3s and 75 million Wiis. That is a huge competitive disadvantage, and I don't see it happening for the next few years," said Pachter. "Game files are huge, so if Apple wants to compete, the device better have a huge hard drive, and it better line up the publishers to convince them that porting costs to the Apple platform are justified. Apple would be best served to wait for the next generation, likely around 2015."

However, Pachter did note that Club Cupertino would always be able to count on the "Apple faithful" to purchase the console, regardless of when it is launched.

"The Apple faithful are reminiscent of the Sony faithful in the 70s and 80s who bought only Sony TV and stereo components," explained Pachter. "These people would buy an Apple refrigerator, if one was offered, on the basis that it was less complicated to chill food."

Apple game console

Pachter also commented on speculation that Sony's new 120GB PS3 could prompt Microsoft and Nintendo to lower the price of their respective consoles.  

"I'm pretty sure Microsoft will play wait and see. There are rumors everywhere that they will lower the price of the Elite to $299 and eliminate the Pro SKU, so although that is nominally a price cut, it's not particularly compelling vis-à-vis the PS3 at $299. They will probably see if PS3 begins to outsell the 360, and more importantly, see if 360 sales actually decline, before deciding on a further price cut," opined Pachter. "I don't think that Natal is intended to supplant a price cut. Rather, I think that they will introduce a super SKU with Natal (probably a 500Gb hard drive, DVR software, an Internet TV tuner, some features like that) at the same $299 price a year from now. If PS3 cuts to $199 then, it may not be enough."

Finally, Pachter recommended that Nintendo "sit up" and pay attention to Sony.

"The Wii is now priced only $50 lower than a feature packed PS3 and a 360 with a 60Gb (rumored as soon to be 120Gb) hard drive. The 'value' of the Wii is diminished in light of these competitive products priced barely higher, and I think that Nintendo is the big loser from the PS3 price cut. Natal is not a substitute for the Wii motion control system, but is a logical upgrade for Wii owners looking for multiplayer online game play, high definition and Internet features such as Netflix and Facebook. I think that Nintendo must cut prices," added Pachter.