Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Bait and Switch: How Apple Created Nintendo’s Best Console

Dan Masters:

Apple has always had a rocky relationship with gaming. They have historically paid little attention to gaming — most notably on the Mac. However, post-iPhone they demonstrated an apparent newfound commitment to games by seemingly devoting significant resources and attention to it each year.


Rather than improve Game Center to match services like Xbox Live or to enhance Apple Watch, Apple gave it a paint job and called it a day for three years… until they decided to simply kill it. Meanwhile, they launch ReplayKit — a feature that would suit Game Center perfectly — and the only destination is the vanilla Share Sheet. As usual, they skate to where the puck will be, but fail to hit it[…]


Apple created the MFi Controller standard because they recognised that console-calibre games required controllers to match. However, this was only one piece of the puzzle and, per usual, it remains an unfinished thought[…]


You may question why Apple should concern themselves with focusing on games; after all, they take a decent cut from the fraction of users known as “whales” while doing practically nothing, and they have over one billion iPhone users, many of whom play at least one game occasionally. I would agree, if not for the fact that Apple set themselves up for success with all the right pieces, but they simply did not execute. Indeed, this is merely part of a concerning pattern of Apple’s content fumbles — see: podcasts, TV, movies, iBooks (and, arguably, even audiobooks).

Furthermore, Nintendo’s success — so close to Apple’s home in every respect — highlights the significant market they ceded. Apple’s foresight became their demise, much like Microsoft has often experienced[…]

Zac Cichy:

My argument: Apple should want to be the best in any market they operate in. Games are over 70% of App Store revenue.

Does that mean Apple should do more here? Well I don’t know. What does 70% of App Store revenue justify? I think it justifies a lot.

In some ways it seems like Apple was so close and just didn’t follow through. Maybe gaming could have been a home run if Apple gave it more resources and focus. One could argue that it’s more strategic—and less costly—than what they’re doing with TV content.

The are also tradeoffs. Bundling a controller with the Apple TV would likely have really helped but made it even more expensive than its competition. It would be a mistake to limit the Apple TV’s appeal to the general market. But Apple could have accepted lower margins or sold Apple TVs at a loss, as Microsoft did with Xbox, in order to seed the platform. Evidently, they do not see it as strategic enough.

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"But Apple could have accepted lower margins or sold Apple TVs at a loss, as Microsoft did with Xbox, in order to seed the platform. Evidently, they do not see it as strategic enough."

Is there literally anything that Apple will accept lower margins on, or (heaven forfend) sell at a loss for strategic reasons? I believe that violates the Prime Directive.

(I mean, seriously, all I can recall offhand is that they accepted somewhat lower margins on the Mac Mini back in the days where the Mac was actually strategic to the company, and they recognized they needed a reasonably priced Mini to provide a more viable Mac ecosystem.)

[…] thinks the purpose of Apple TV is. The 4th incarnation raised the bar, but not enough to really compete in gaming. It seems like a cheaper version would be better for both their content and iOS businesses. […]

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