While it may never see a launch, Apple has been outed as having an iOS controller under development. In his review of the new iPad, industry veteran Anand Shimpi mentions:
"I know of an internal Apple project to bring a physical controller to market, but whether or not it will ever see the light of day remains to be seen. As smartphones and tablets come close to equalling the performance of current game consoles, I feel like the controller problem must be addressed."
That's hardly a leap of great logic, I'm sure Apple has cunning types developing everything from iToasters to whole Earth replacement planets in its labs. But, with the race on for the next generation console (with Sony PS4 and XboxNext news increasing in frequency and solidity), all Apple has to do is pop out its new controller in time for the iPhone 5 or iPad 4, or the Apple HDTV range and you instantly have a games console without the ugly box.
Apple also has the infrastructure in place for secure digital sales with iTunes, with a little work GameCenter could be a decent gaming service and could offer thousands of games instead of a usual console launch roster of 20-30 titles.
That would shake up the market massively and could see gamers buying a lot of Apple gear to replace clunky traditional consoles and with very first first-party-only developers, Apple has the clout to get most games franchises on its wares.