ExtremeTech had an interview with Alex St. John, co-founder and CEO of WildTangent and one of the writers of Microsoft's DirectX libraries. Here's a snip on his vision about consoles:
ET: Now, Mr. Sweeney, and also the God of War: Chains of Olympus studio head, Didier Malenfant, indicated enthusiasm for the next generation of consoles—not next-gen consoles as they're referred to now, but the following generation. Now when I spoke to you at Game Developer's Conference, you predicted that the current generation of consoles would be the last. Who's correct here?
ASJ: It's a heretical thing to say, but I have a damn good point. First of all, it's not crazy to point out many, major console failures in history completely destroyed the company and stymied the console market for years. Sega and Colecovision being two of the classic ones. They were leaders, everything they did—they could do no wrong, and boom, they're gone.
And the thing that's interesting in this era, that I think is significant, is that Sony and Microsoft severely overextended themselves. Burned themselves. Burned more money than they could ever hope to get back on these consoles. Even if the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 are wild successes, they will never get their money back.
Billions of dollars. Billions of dollars. And, to say that they will have—for one, to say that they will be eager to do that to themselves anytime soon, is highly improbable, which means that this generation of consoles could be in the market as the only generation of consoles available for a very long time.
Second, who are the guys making money in the console space? Nintendo! They shipped off the shelf, cheapo, ATI video chips! And they're killing it! And the reason is that Nintendo correctly observes that graphics is no longer a differentiating feature; it's a commodity. The feature of the Nintendo [Wii] is a new type of game mechanic, enabled by a new controller. And so what that says is that graphics has become a commodity. As we talked about on the PC, all PCs are gonna have great graphics compared to a console, in many cases; the Japanese and Microsoft aren't going to engineer a superior graphics chip in the future than one you can buy from ATI or Nvidia; it's never gonna happen again. For Sony or Microsoft to go and design their own graphics chip would be lunacy in the next generation..