Valve Software bossman Gabe Newell admitted during a podcast interview with Seven Day Cooldown that the company is looking to create an open hardware platform both in the living room and mobile space that the industry can use. The idea is to get out of the "proprietary traps" that are currently leading both sectors (thanks to Apple, Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo) by offering an alternative to existing proprietary console technologies.
The news arrives after Apple CEO Tim Cook said that he did not speak with Newell during a supposed visit to Apple's headquarters. The rumored meeting led to speculation that Valve's "Steam Box" technology would be used in Apple's upcoming iTV rather than serve as a stand-alone console. Now it seems that we're back to the original rumor of Valve entering the living room space on its own.
Newell said during the interview that an initiative into the console and mobile space would involve "barely out-there hardware design," or rather, hardware that would be relatively unique. However Valve hasn't made any final decisions on hardware design, nor is the studio even confident that it has what it takes to build a competitive console. But Newell nonetheless hopes that Valve can add something to both sectors.
Valve's CEO has been vocal about open platforms for quite a while, saying that closed platform holders are currently severing the direct lines between the developer and the consumer for their own benefit. Even more, he says that Microsoft, Nintendo and even Apple view themselves as "more rent guys who are essentially driving their partner margins to zero."
"They build a shiny sparkling thing that attracts users and then they control people's access to those things," he said, adding that it was "ominous that the world seems to be moving away from open platforms." Later on he stated that if Valve needed to step in and offer hardware based on an open platform to resolve the problem, then it would do so.
Recently Valve's Doug Lombardi indicated that the company doesn't have any immediate plans to release a console, but it was quite possible in the future. Originally there was speculation that Steam Box was more of a certified hardware spec list that manufacturers had to follow in order to release Valve-approved desktops and laptops. But an actual console would definitely solve Valve's problem in delivering updates and other content to couch potatoes who currently can;t receive similar content on Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network.
Yet now we have confirmation that Valve's looking into the mobile sector. Does that mean we'll see a Windows 8-based Steam Tablet?