Steam Box competing with Apple, not consoles

Steam Box competing with Apple, not consoles
Seth Tipps

By Seth Tipps

January 31st 2013 at 7:09AM

Gabe Newell says challenge is to break into living room before Mac takes over

The biggest threat facing the living room PC and Steam Box is Apple, says Gabe Newell.

The founder and head of PC gaming icon Valve spoke of his company's plans to introduce its "Steam Box" to what was once the domain of game consoles at the University of Texas' LBJ School of Public Affairs

"The threat right now is that Apple has gained a huge amount of market share, and has a relatively obvious pathway towards entering the living room with their platform," said Newell as reported by Polygon.

"I think that there's a scenario where we see sort of a dumbed down living room platform emerging — I think Apple rolls the console guys really easily. The question is can we make enough progress in the PC space to establish ourselves there, and also figure out better ways of addressing mobile before Apple takes over the living room?"

This might sound a bit paranoid, but if Apple were to put its own living room platform forward with the hardware capable of even mid-core games it would cause at least as much disruption as Nintendo's Wii did at launch

Newell says that those wanting to distribute a living room PC will have to ride on the strengths of their hardware: bigger hard drives, coustomizable form factors, and offering support for hardware the user might already own.

He isn't just talking about other companies innovating in the PC space for the sake of rhetoric either.

"I think a whole bunch of hardware companies are going to be releasing products in the next 12 months — you'll hear it referred to as Miracast, Shield from Nvidia, or lots of other people," said Newell.

"There are going to be a huge set of products that say, 'If you want something that's incredibly cheap, at a price point well below anything that consoles will be able to reach, you're going to take advantage of the PC that's running somewhere in your house.'

"It's like one of those things where afterwards it will seem like it was very simple, when beforehand, everyone sort of denied that it was possible."

Though Valve definitely has the initiative with its Linux-powered Steam box and third party manufacturers already lined up to take advantage of its model of the living room PC platform, it won't be long before others join in.

"We're happy to do it if nobody else will do it, mainly because everybody else will pile on, and people will have a lot of choices, but they'll have those characteristics," said Newell.

"They'll say, 'Well, I could buy a console, which assumes I'll re-buy all my content, have a completely different video system, and, oh, I have a completely different group of friends, apparently. Or I can just extend everything I love about the PC and the internet into the living room.'"

To Newell this makes the question of competition from consoles besides the point; the only thing that can really dint Valve's hopes is Apple getting a hold of the market before its own solution can take root.

"The biggest challenge I don't think is from the consoles," Newell said. "I think the biggest challenge is that Apple moves on the living room before the PC industry sort of gets its act together."