Apple is reportedly designing a physical game controller that could eventually be sold alongside its mobile lineup of iOS devices.
Details remain scarce, with AnandTech's Anand Lal Shimpi saying only that he has learned of "an internal Apple project to bring a physical controller to market."
However, Lal Shimpi emphasized that he was unable to determine if Cupertino has made a definitive decision to do so.
Nevertheless, he believes such controllers are inevitable, especially for core gamers, as smartphones and tablets move closer to rivaling the performance of existing consoles.
As Lal Shimpi points out, the iPad manufacturer may also be feeling pressured to distinguish itself from Google which has offered (basic) integrated support for both wired and wireless controllers in Android 3.0 Honeycomb and beyond.
Meanwhile, AppleInsider's Slash Lane notes that along with their Android counterparts, iOS devices have quickly become a "new frontier" for serious game developers. Indeed, the combined Android-iOS share of US-based game software revenue increased 3x from just a paltry 19% in 2009 to an impressive 58% by the end of last year.
Obviously, iOS and Android success has negatively impacted Nintendo and Sony, which saw their software sales decrease from 70% to 36% and 11% to 6%, respectively, over the same period. Unfortunately, the situation is unlikely to improve for either industry heavyweight any time soon, as Nintendo recently reported the first ever operating loss ($575 million) in its corporate history, while Sony confirmed a $1.2 billion loss for the December quarter.
In contrast, Apple is shifting its gaming efforts into high gear by recruiting a number of veteran industry execs to help accelerate its momentum in the highly lucrative space. For example, Cupertino recently hired Robin Burrowes, who previously headed up Microsoft's overseas XBox Live team, along with Robert Saunders (Nintendo) and Nick Grange (Xbox, Activision and EA).