Apple Inc. (AAPL) Can Beat Sony Corporation (ADR) (SNE), Microsoft Corporation (MSFT), and Nintendo Co., Ltd (ADR) (NTDOY)

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Sony Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:SNE) is going to get a rare moment to shine tomorrow.

The struggling Japanese maker of consumer electronics is hosting an event to introduce its new PlayStation gaming console. The buzz is understandable. Sony could use some good news at a time when its flagship TV business has been profitless for years. It doesn't help that it's been losing market share with the PS3, especially stateside, where Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)'s Xbox 360 has been the country's top seller every month for the past two years.

Sony Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:SNE)Then again, hope springs eternal with every new console generation.

Sony can't afford to get greedy here. It's been burned lately by aiming too high in pricing its console and portable gaming devices. However, Sony also can't afford to let Microsoft continue to take the lead in turning its Xbox platform into the centerpiece of home theater entertainment.

Sony may have raised the bar by being the first console maker to allow the playback of Blu-ray discs, but streaming is the name of the game these days.

It all ends with the TV Any gaming console worth its space by the television has to do a lot more than simply play games. The future of gaming is to replace the set-top box, and that's why Microsoft is investing in streaming content.

Sure, the PS3 will stream video and surf the Web, but that isn't enough. The Wii U does a lot online that the Xbox 360 and PS3 can do, yet it has been a disappointment for Nintendo Co., Ltd (ADR) (PINK:NTDOY) since its November launch.

Sony should know this. Unlike Microsoft and Nintendo, Sony actually has a filmed entertainment arm. However, even that might not be enough once Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) makes its inevitable jump into this market.

Apple jacks Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) TV has been a reasonably popular set-top gadget, but the real prize here will be when Apple introduces its own smart television. It's going to happen. Steve Jobs himself discussed the possibilities shortly before his death.

However, if Apple's HDTV -- or iTV, as many have been calling it -- truly wants to raise the bar, isn't it going to have to perform double duty as a gaming console as well?

Think about it.

Nobody's talking about Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) entering the gaming market. Despite the runaway success of its App Store in selling casual games, no one is pegging the class act of Cupertino for hard-core gaming. Many of the wagers on where Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) will go next rest on wristwatches, phablets, and even cars. The holdup in getting a smart television out has centered largely on the licensing rights required to introduce a new television service.

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