The next upgrade to Apple's iPhone will have a strong focus on gaming, analysts and developers agree.

That's because the gaming market is an increasingly juicy segment of the mobile multimedia space - and it's one that Apple's phenomenally successful iPhone is well-positioned to dominate.

"The iPhone and iPod Touch are becoming a major new handheld gaming platform, and if you look at the App Store and look at what's doing well, that's reflecting," said Bart Decrem, CEO of Tapulous, developer of the popular Tap Tap Revenge iPhone game. "I would look forward to improvements in the device as a gaming platform both for the phone and iPod Touch."

Apple made clear its plans to seize the gaming market in November 2008 when Apple marketing executive Greg Joswiak called the iPhone and iPod Touch "the future of gameplay," posing a serious threat to dedicated gaming consoles such as the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP.

The reasons? A few things: The quick, electronic distribution method of games and apps via the iPhone's App Store; the accelerometer and multitouch display, which are introducing new approaches to gameplay; and the iPhone's lighter, more portable form factor compared to its rivals.

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