Where are Apple in virtual worlds then?

Yesterday I was asked what Apple are doing with virtual worlds and related technology. The answer had to be, I don’t know, it would appear nothing specific. It was something I brought up at the 3DTLC conference in washington earlier in the year.
Having tweeted about it and ended up on a Facebook discussion it seemed worth putting some more firm thoughts down here.
I agree that Apple mac consumer hardware, the iphone, ipod, Mac. They also make the operating systems to power those specific pieces of hardware. In doing that they heavily focus on the user experience and giving a smooth experience to users and to developers.
Clearly when we are talking about virtual worlds they can be considered just an application. Opensim servers run just fine on my MBP. The various clients for Second Life work just fine too. So it is great for them to just keep cranking the handle on their base products.
Santa is mad at festival hall
(Photo made using 3dvia app on iphone and 3d model Santa is Mad by Toymaker )
However, the iphone and its recent updates to allow Augmented Reality applications, combined with development tools like unity3d and the number of 3d games such as Star Wars Trench Run is showing that as a mobile platform it is viable to interact with a virtual world app.

So is it likely for Apple to start to help with the same sort of UI polish and standards that it has created for touch applications, or the look and feel of the Mac OS?
Is Apple in a position to create and manage the equivalent of ITunes or the App store for virtual goods and content?
Already the iphone SDK has been updated to allow the delivery of new packaged content within an app, to allow free apps to be unlocked through commerce applications.
So in many ways Apple already has the pieces for us and are starting to use them themselves by creating an App team. The question is, what will Apple do? A few years ago we would not have expected the iPod and iTunes to come from people that made the homebrew original Apple hardware would we?
It will be interesting to see this develop.

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