Gabe Newell says Apple is the biggest threat to the Steam Box

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Valve CEO Gabe Newell doesn’t think Microsoft is the only catastrophe to gaming—he also took a shot at one of Microsoft’s biggest competitors, Apple, in a lecture to a class at the University of Texas’ LBJ School of Public Affairs, by saying that Apple was the biggest threat to Valve’s Steam Box. “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.”

“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,” Newell said. “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 seems natural since the operating system that the Steam Box is going to use, Linux, is also a competitor of the Mac OS X as well as Windows. Linux has a small but steadily growing market share in the consumer market, while Linux is the OS of choice for servers and supercomputers.

“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, [Project] Shield from NVIDIA, or lots of other people,” Newell also said. “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.”

In 2011, Newell had concern that Apple would reach the living room first in an interview with the Seattle Times, stating that Apple’s platform, which is closed-source, will shut out the open-source creativity that Steam hopes to foster. Steam offers consumers the chance for smaller and independent game developers to develop games that Steam can distribute. The Steam community can vote on which games will be released through Steam via Steam Greenlight.

“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. 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,'” Newell also said in the lecture.

Photo Credit: Polygon