I have a feeling this is less about Apple producing these, and more about them beefing up their patent portfolio.
Though they really should come out with something like this, or allow third parties to. There is currently no quality peripheral providing this feature the way it should be done. Crazy, considering how big of a market mobile gaming is. I gave up on a lot of mobile game types, because I was sick of having to cover half the screen with my thumbs.
Personally, I think it's an interesting patent, but if it hasn't happened by now, I'm not sure it's going to. Mobile developers have more or less gotten used to programming for touchscreens (even complex games like Baldur's Gate), and there are enough Bluetooth controllers, keyboards and mice to suit those who don't want to use their fingers.
Besides, if the sales figures for phone/tablet games versus 3DS/Vita games are any indication, consumers are not exactly dying for a return to traditional handhelds. We'll see what happens.
So star trek created the Pad but apple said they invented it
Samsung made popular the large screen Notes but Apple claimed the trophy
Smart watches were around for now over 3 years but apple says their design is new
Now they take a product you can already buy but patent it.