Since Microsoft released the original Xbox there have been three companies to choose from when it came to buying a console, each of which now has its own discernible style and strategy. Nintendo have their consistent innovation, variety of first and third party games and a vast legacy to draw upon, Sony has its strong roster of exclusive studios to churn out countless exclusives each year and Microsoft has the best of the online services, a few notable exclusives, Kinect and the usual third party games.
Each of the companies is, within the next few years, likely to release a new console and all are likely to stick to their current strategies, or at least something quite similar. The result is that, once again, we will have three great consoles to choose from, once again there will be a huge fan boy war and, once again, most of us will only end up with one of the three due to loyalties and/or lack of money.
Why bother though? I accept that what I am about to propose will most likely never happen but, put your ideological hats on for a few minutes and just think about what would happen if it did. Imagine if there was only one console, being worked on by all companies. It's been tried (and failed) before but what if all three did it? The innovation and legacy of Nintendo, the vast collection of exclusives and graphical power of Sony, the online services of Microsoft and, if you're into it, Kinect.
We would have one console that could please everyone, one console that everyone had, everyone would have the same games, the same experience, sales would be through the roof and it would be an all round success. On top of it they could work together on a handheld, again merging their collective talents into one awe inspiring product. There would be no more need for fanboys and if you wanted to play Halo with a friend you could, and if they wanted to play Uncharted with you then they could and then afterwards, you could play Zelda together.
As I said, I know it will probably never happen, there are too many egos involved and, at the end of the day, from a purely practical and business oriented point of view it would be a logistical nightmare. But imagine if, after the next generation, we had just one console and one handheld.