A customer looks at an iPhone 4 at the Apple Store 5th Avenue in New York
Apple on hiring spree to cash in on smartphone gaming boom REUTERS

Apple's hawk eye on the gaming scene has been the point of much discussion and speculation. And finally there seems to be some real development. From rumors about acquiring Sony, or eying Adobe or Disney, there are now reports that Apple is hiring executives from gaming giant Nintendo to push its gaming presence.

And this comes at a time when studies and surveys have shown that gaming is gradually gravitating towards smartphones and tablets. The hold of handheld devices is still strong, but the future points to smartphones and tablets.

The gravity of the moment was not lost on Apple, which is focused on establishing iOs as a major gaming platform. Tech websites like AppleInsider reported that Apple has netted high profile PR executives from Nintendo and Activision. According to reports Apple has poached former Nintendo UK head of communications Robert Saunders.

Also, Apple hired Activision PR director Nick Grange with plans to entrust him with a key hardware role at Apple. Surely Apple needs seasoned professionals in the industry to take head on the many elephants in the room as Apple's fledgling iOs gaming platform will try to expand on the Game Center apps.

A recent Google AdMob survey showed that more tablet and smartphone users are now using their devices to play games. Surprisingly, of all activities people use their devices for, gaming is the leads all other recorded activities.

The AdMob survey showed 84 percent of the respondents said they gamed on their tablet device whereas only 78 percent said they use the device information-related uses like email, surfing.

Also, some 68 percent said they use their tablets for more than one hour every day. And more than half of this number spent two or more hours on daily tablet time—that's a lot of gaming, PCMag =reported.

According to a December 2010 report by Interpret, smartphone gaming has risen to 43.8 percent of the mobile gaming market, while the number of games played on the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP has fallen by 13 percent.

It was speculated end of last year that while Microsoft could leverage its Xbox games to push its smartphone Windows Phone 7, Apple did not want to be left behind, and would hence try to counter competition by acquiring Sony's gaming division to boost its iPhone.

It was surmised that Apple was primarily targeting Sony's gaming segment which includes its PlayStation line of products. While Apple lacks a significant presence in the gaming industry,
Microsoft, with its Xbox line of products, and Nintendo are major players.

An Interpret report in December last year showed that mobile phones raced ahead in the gaming market, claiming around 43 of the share.

Significantly, while there was a 53.2 percent rise in games played on smartphones there was a fall of 13 percent in games played on handheld devices from Nintendo and Sony.

The market trends definitely validate Apple's late-but-not-too-late push into the gaming scene.