Apple co-founder and all-round influential figure Steve Wozniak recently—in all his open-minded glory—told Wired that he sees merit in Apple producing Android-powered handsets as a secondary endeavor so as to compete in even more markets. It’s an interesting notion. In the idea-centric world of technology, it can seem like the determination to carve out a niche so as to maximize profit can hold a company back from openly drawing anything from competitors, though of course it doesn’t stop anyone from stealing and lying about it or simply filing endless wafer-thin patents. Regardless, it would be interesting to see what they’d do with the platform, as it is now interesting to ponder what other implausible mashups the geek world might like to see.
AppleDroid, Robotic Fruit Assassin
There are certain pairings of disparate elements a sane person would never expect to come about. If I were to divide them among three categories, I would say that some have an air of promise to them (such as projectile weapons and sharks), some make no sense (such as werewolves and improvisational comedy), and some impart upon me a level of disgust such that it feels like my very spirit is attempting to sneeze (such as pineapples and pizzas). Apple hardware plus Android software, well, that effortlessly manages the trifecta.
I’m imagining a sleek custom build of Android with an update schedule similar to that of iOS, locked down by the Cupertino paranoia police but inevitably freed by a zealous and relentless development community. Indeed, it would be rather like Amazon’s tablets in that people would immediately seek to get past the front end to the soft underbelly of the basic operating system. Still, as good as it might be, it would feel wrong, wouldn’t it? Like a crime against nature.
Valve and Sony’s Customer Satisfaction Powerhouse
Sony’s shadow still looms large in the gaming industry, with a rich history of well-built hardware behind it, but it has developed a reputation for ruthlessly extracting money from its long-suffering customers, most notably through wallet-gouging memory cards. Valve, on the other hand, knows just how to run a sale so as to bleed us dry and have us feeling thankful for the experience. If they could team up on a console—maybe having a Steam-quality system on the PS4—and be correspondingly reasonable with peripherals, they could give the Xbox lineup an even stronger kick in the nether regions. It’s a real shame that it will never happen.
Double Fine and Telltale, Master Storytellers
Even if you’re not a big fan of old-fashioned adventure games, you’ll probably have heard of Double Fine Productions through the hugely successful Kickstarter campaign which led to the creation of Broken Age, the first half of which was released last month and received very warmly. Another popular studio is Telltale Games, which has done an excellent job of creating absorbing games based on television shows, movies, comic books, and even older games, with The Walking Dead being a particularly big hit.
This is a fascinating one because Telltale was started by ex-Lucasarts employees, and ultimately produced a great series of new Monkey Island games, a franchise which was co-designed from the outset by Tim Schafer, founder of Double Fine and also formerly of Lucasarts. These overlaps are the cherry on top of what is regardless a fundamentally strong match between two companies big on well-written narratives, gorgeous environments, and lovingly-crafted humor.
I’m a huge Monkey Island fan and would love to see some more instalments, but I’d most like the two companies to pool their resources and remake Grim Fandango, a beautiful old game built in chapters. I loved it when I played it years ago, but it doesn’t run well on modern systems and has an incredibly clunky inventory system. Really, it wouldn’t matter what they did, it would still be worth checking out. Maybe they could merge and call themselves Lucasarts? I’m sure the owners of the name would be cool about it and not insanely litigious.
Never Stop Dreaming
Talent gets shared, but companies keep their individual identities; that’s just how it goes. There won’t be an Android Apple phone, or a Sony Steam Machine, or a DoubleTell FineTale supergroup of nostalgia-exploiting geniuses. It’s good to dream, though. Never stop dreaming, kids, unless your dreams become nightmares where your legs become your arms and you’re suddenly upside down and you’re trying to remember how a particular song lyric goes but the precise wording maddeningly eludes you. If that happens, wake up, and reduce your cheese intake. Alternatively, become an insomniac and spend your nights playing Day of the Tentacle, weeping gently as you think of the sequels that never came.