There's no question that Sony and Nintendo are feeling the heat from Apple. Both companies have taken cues from Apple's success with the Apps Store by providing similar small-sized games for their handheld gaming platforms--minis on the Sony PSP and DSiware on the Nintendo DSi (and let's not forget Wiiware on the Nintendo Wii). Recent numbers also indicate that Apple's iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad have already surpassed the PSP in the mobile gaming sector here in the States, and have almost caught up with Nintendo's DS line.
But Sony's president of Networked Products & Services Group Kazuo Hirai implied that Apple isn't a threat to its game business. "It’s something that will lead to broadening the customer base of the overall game industry," Hirai told Bloomberg in an interview. "People who had never played a game before may enjoy it on their iPhone or Android cell phone and may want to play more at their home."
A good example would be Gameloft's Dungeon Hunter, a Diablo-like action/RPG that offers impressive graphics, heavy character customization, and classic hack-n-slash gameplay. The "app" has been such a hit for Gameloft that an HD version is currently in the works for the PlayStation 3. Apparently this version is a complete overhaul, and will offer co-op multiplayer both online and offline.
Just last week Apple launched its gaming service called Game Center for most iOS 4.1-compatible devices, adopting a simplified Xbox Live / PlayStation Network type structure. Apple gamers can add friends, view achievements, and participate in leaderboards, however there's no true socialization as seen with the console-based networks. Nintendo offers a similar service for the Wii and DSi, providing worldwide matchmaking, leaderboards, and more.
So should Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft worry about Apple? Probably not. All three have strong foundations in the gaming industry both in the living room and on the go. Certainly Apple has turned up the heat, however the big three also know how to play the game. If anything, Apple compliments the handheld gaming industry with innovation that ultimately benefits the gamer.