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Games developers eye Mac, iPhone?

Initially, the news of Apple’s shift to the Intel architecture was met with a sudden intake of breath, a stifled gasp followed by a largely collective shrug of the shoulders.

So what?

Those who remember, Apple went from the lesser 680×0 Motorola processor family to the beefier PowerPC 6xx series of processors. And the transition was largely flawless.

However, moving from the PowerPC platform to the Intel architecture was a monumental undertaking.

Or was it?

At the very heart of every Mac is the operating system, and Mac OS X had always had the ability to move between hardware architectures, even before it was OS X, back when it was the NeXT operating system.

By moving to Intel, Apple have all kinds of options open to them.

More recently, the Mac has shown signs of being reconsidered as a gaming platform. However, for the likes of Bungie and Blizzard Inc. the Mac never went away: “I really respect Blizzard for including the Mac version on all pressings of their games.” So says one commenter from Digg on a recent post.

And for Apple, the timing may not be any better than it is right now:

“The first two days of GDC feature conference tracks largely dedicated to a few burgeoning areas of game development — mobile gaming (on PDAs, smartphones and the like), casual games (where the Mac platform is often in the forefront of developers’ minds) and independent games (another area where the Mac can shine).”

And the Game Developers Conference (GDC) is being held at the west hall of the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

It’s so interesting that PDAs, mobile phones and smartphones should get a mention, especially when only recently, Apple have made all of the right noises, which lead many people to suspect (and I’m among those people) that Apple are edging towards so-called ‘casual gaming’, which would emerge through their iPod, iPhone and Apple TV products.

I did have a mini rant some time ago about the perception at the time surrounding Apple and their iPod, and how ‘the end is neigh’ mentality — ‘coz Apple will hit a brick wall once the iPod’s sales curve flattens, or so the reasoning went — was quite pervasive:

“It’s both interesting, amusing and a little disheartening to read commentary by so-called ‘industry analysts’ who predict Apple are headed for rough waters once the iPod sales curve begins to level out.

Where do they get these ideas from?

I’m reminded of when I was a kid and I once worried about what would happen when I grew out of my clothes. I had a vision of me going to school in my underpants.

Do they honestly believe that one of the most innovative companies on Earth would just cease to innovate?”

So how the Mac actually fares as a gaming rig might be secondary if casual gaming takes off, with recent events certainly point to that being the case.

And with Apple due to roll out new gadgets that seem only too receptive to casual gaming, the smart money is on Apple building out a little product matrix to match the market and the mood of the casual gamer, be they on a bus, in a car stuck in traffic, on a train or in a dead-end relationship.

There’s always time for one last game of Tetris, isn’t there?

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By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.

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