• 01. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple

July 3, 2012 Update: Still holding strong at the top spot, despite recent Apple statements that they're not interested in making a console. As long as iPads and iPhones keep flying off the shelves and attracting tons of gamers and game companies, it's hard to argue that Apple doesn't have a ton of power and momentum in gaming as well as an ability to move game-playing hardware that is surely the envy of the traditional video game hardware manufacturers.

Apple may not make many overt efforts to lead gaming, yet somehow they remain a gaming power-player. Note that in the wake of E3, we see Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo beginning to gain momentum. We consider the gap narrowing and Microsoft or Nintendo bigwigs poised for the top spot here. Facebook/Zynga people are stumbling and Sony, while they have great resurgent potential, still seems to have a longer road to the top.

May 30, 2012 Update: Apple is known as a powerhouse for mobile gaming, but Tim Cook went on record to say that the company is not interested in moving to the console platform.

March 27, 2012 Update: The new iPad officially launched, and already reached 3 million units sold after just one week from its release. The CEO of Apple firmly remains at number one.

Feb 20, 2012 Update: Speculation of the iPad 3 being just around the corner further reinforces Apple's stance in the gaming market, particularly if the new hardware narrows the gap even more between iPads and home consoles.

Why He's Powerful

Tim Cook holds the future of gaming in his hands. But does he know it?

In just four short years, iOS devices—iPhone, iPad, and the iPod touch—have become arguably the world's largest gaming platform. We're talking a quarter of a billion devices sold, the lion's share of which can run any of the tens of thousands of games on the iTunes App Store.

All without a concerted effort towards gaming by Apple, which seems content to let the app developers themselves duke it out.

With a possible iOS-based Apple television on the horizon, as well as baby steps being made to allow iOS devices interact seamlessly with existing televisions, Apple could begin to threaten dedicated set-top gaming consoles—almost accidentally.

Even more harrowing for the traditional game industry is the App Store's lure to small- and medium-sized developers. There's a finite amount of engineering and artistic talent on the planet. The traditional gaming work environment has been long hours for modest pay. Yet the App Store is minting millionaires working out of their bedrooms.

It's the ‘80s all over again—good news for everyone except a gaming industry still in denial that the game they created has been changed by an adventitious kingmaker.