The future of handheld gaming is changing. There was a time when a device like the Gameboy, which only played video games, was sufficient to grab consumer interest. Now gadgets have to be able to browse the Internet, download and store movies and music, and even take pictures in addition to acting as mobile gaming devices. Customers are now used to devices which fill many different niches, and that's why the iPod touch is going to be such a major player in the future of mobile gaming.
9to5Mac.com reports that Wedbush Morgan Securities Analyst Michael Pachter expects that the iPod touch will account for 10-15% of all future handheld gaming sales. Gaming apps are incredibly popular on the app store, and the proliferation of ebooks is only going to open up more avenues for mobile gaming.
Several ebook developers are already working on interactive fantasy adventure game books for the iPhone/iPod touch. There is a great deal of speculation that many of these new books are being rolled out specifically with the upcoming iTablet in mind. Ebooks are already the second largest category in the app store, which bodes well for Apple's new tablet, and ill for the Kindle and its ilk.
The e-reader market isn't very large right now, and a device that offers ebook capability along with browsing, gaming, and video playback functionality has a good chance to tear a lot of market share out of the Kindle's hide. That's why I tend to think it's likely that the Apple iTablet going to hit stores in the near future. Apple is throwing a lot of money into areas of development that a tablet PC would excel in. Any tablet PC is going to be a substantial risk for the company that releases it, but I think technology has finally advanced enough to make them a viable computing option.
Apple isn't averse to taking risks. The profit potential is there, and they've already seen great success with very similar products. Any tablet Apple releases is going to be similar in function to a touch with the processing and storage power of a netbook. Both products are doing well in the modern mobile marketplace, and the time may be right for a hybrid.