Why Apple CEO Tim Cook Met With Valve [Updated]

Why Apple CEO Tim Cook Met With Valve [Updated]

Apple and Valve may be partnering with each other on a revolutionary video game console.

An unconfirmed report surfaced yesterday saying that Apple CEO Tim Cook was spotted at Valve’s headquarters in Bellevue, Washington. Whenever Cook is spotted out and about, people take notice. The CEO of the world’s most valuable company doesn’t personally visit other tech companies to simply have a chat.

Many speculated as to why Cook would be visiting Valve, maker of popular game series like Half-Life, Team Fortress and Portal. Valve also boasts an incredibly robust online PC gaming platform called Steam that operates similarly to Apple’s App Store.

We’ve gotten word that Cook was indeed at Valve yesterday, and what’s more, Apple is planning a full-on assault to take over the living room. This assault won’t just be limited to the long-rumored Apple HDTV set, but will also include a revolutionary home console as well.

According to sources to Cult of Mac, Apple is working on a television set with an iTunes-integrated touch screen remote and Siri-like voice command technology. The TV set will be coming before the end of 2012. Rumors and patents have said as much for the past year, so that’s nothing new. But that’s not all we’ve heard.

Our sources also say that Apple’s television set will come with an Apple-branded, Kinect-like video game console. The interface will rely heavily on motion and touch controls.

If true, this wouldn’t be Cupertino’s first foray into the console market.

Back in 1995, Apple collaborated with Bandai to product a Mac OS running home console called the Bandai Pippin back in 1995. Things were pretty disjointed at Apple back then, and the company was trying to regain its image under the leadership of Michael Spindler. Apple licensed the Pippin platform to Bandai for a console, but the market was already dominated by the PlayStation and Sega. The Pippin was priced too high to compete and Bandai ended up selling less than 50,000 units before shelving the project.

Back to Valve. The gaming company makes Steam, a PC game distribution network with 30 million active users on both the PC and Mac. Steam is to gaming as iTunes is to music. Recent rumors have suggested that Valve is working on its own console dubbed the “Steam Box.” Instead of another Xbox or PlayStation, the hardware would serve as more of a standard that Valve would license to partners, much like the way Google handles Android in the smartphone space.

Recent Valve job listings also indicate that the company is working on a mysterious hardware project. The Steam Box is rumored to feature biometrics technology in the form of a bracelet or wearable device for recognizing players.

Last year Valve CEO Gabe Newell seemed concerned with Apple’s ‘walled garden’ approach and the possibility of its entrance into the TV market. “On the platform side, it’s sort of ominous that the world seems to be moving away from open platforms,” Newell told The Seattle Times. “They build a shiny sparkling thing that attracts users and then they control people’s access to those things.”

Newell talked about “shiny sparkling things” again in a more recent interview a couple months ago:

Well, if we have to sell hardware we will. We have no reason to believe we’re any good at it, it’s more we think that we need to continue to have innovation and if the only way to get these kind of projects started is by us going and developing and selling the hardware directly then that’s what we’ll do. It’s definitely not the first thought that crosses our mind; we’d rather hardware people that are good at manufacturing and distributing hardware do that. We think it’s important enough that if that’s what we end up having to do then that’s what we end up having to do.

If there’s anyone that’s good at manufacturing and distributing hardware, it’s Apple. We don’t know the exact details of why Tim Cook met with Valve recently, but the two companies are obviously talking to one another. Based on what we’ve heard, it’s possible that Apple could be considering Valve as a partner for its entrance into living room gaming.

We’ve reached out to both Valve and Apple for comment and will update this story if we receive a reply.

Update: After declining to comment on this story, Valve co-founder Gabe Newell has now said that Tim Cook never visited his company. Our sources have again reiterated that Apple is continuing with its plans for a living room gaming presence regardless of Valve involvement.

  • jackwhitney1

    Could we see an integration of steam into the mac app store? Or maybe steam in the next version of the apple tv box maybe??

  • Lane Jasper

    This will truly be amazing I think. Siri/iTunes/Web/gaming etc. all in one package for a home media center with the quality and build by Apple? MOST DEFINITELY going to get one.

  • Lane Jasper

    I’d still like to see more recent games for Mac OSas well, rather than all focus being on iOS but this coming out (if rumors are true) will most likely be the new focus for Mac gaming rather than bringing newer titles to the Lap/Desk top platform OS X I believe.

  • Christian Moesgaard

    Apple is the last company in the world I would try to license a gaming product with. Their 3D performance is absolutely abysmal.

  • NotSoNinja75

    I think Jack has got it, much more likely to be a software/licensing deal than any fancy new hardware. I wonder is the source engine could be ported to iOS?

  • jackwhitney1

    Yes it unlike apple to collaborate on hardware with another company as they like to have tight control of their products. Not so much with software. So as I said earlier some sort of software deal is a lot more likely.

  • Matthew Gonzales Landry

    This is exciting news. I’d never think Apple would get into the gaming market unless they know they’re going to be successful. Tacking on gaming into the Apple TV or iPanel is a great move! It’s a bigger incentive than running “blown up iPad games” on the new unit. Right now I have my Mac Pro connected to my TV, but it looks like Apple wants the TV to be a standalone system. I really have clue what’s coming but this looks to be the biggest year for Apple in history.

  • ken147

    Is the cake still a lie?

  • Neil Paul Donal Almond

    The idea of incorporated console would make sense. Especially after the patents Apple have submitted regarding 3D avatars http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/apple/9176905/Apple-patents-3D-avatar-app.html

    It all fits together nicely!

  • James Anders

    So, Tim flew to meet with Valve. Hmm. I wonder if Tim got Steve’s old plane?

  • MacsFuture

    This totally makes sense and is exiting news. I am holding off on replacing my 7 year old 42 inch plasma tv in the hopes that Apple comes out with a real tv later this year. Very cool.

  • Tallest_Skil

    How stupid do you have to be? Apple isn’t making a television. Apple isn’t making a console. This is absolutely idiotic.

    Valve MAY be making iOS ports of its games, or they may be bringing their desktop games to the Mac App Store.

  • zoomos

    I think it would be awesome if apple made a complete gaming system, TV, Gaming Console and iTunes all in one package but the price will ultimately dictate it’s success.

  • lowtolerance

    How stupid do you have to be? Apple isn’t making a television. Apple isn’t making a console. This is absolutely idiotic.

    Why is it so hard to believe that Apple might be working on a console?

    iOS has more games than any console in history combined, and adapting those to the TV wouldn’t be much more difficult than adapting an iPhone game to the iPad. Existing iOS devices could act as controllers, interfacing via Bluetooth 4. For those without an iPhone/iPad/iPod. Apple could sell a lower-cost “dumb” touchscreen, similar to what Nintendo is doing with the Wii U.

    I don’t think this is a matter of “if” as much as a matter of “when”. Mark my words, within the next couple of years, we will see an app-enabled Apple TV that will do for gaming what Apple has already done for so many other industries. The pieces of the puzzle are all there; it just wouldn’t make sense for them not to capitalize on it. The first-gen Apple console will be ho-hum(you won’t be playing the next Call of Duty on the ATV anytime soon), but While MS, Sony and Nintendo are content with shipping a new console every 10 years, Apple will be filling in the gap by releasing more and more capable ATVs every single year, backwards compatible all the way down to iPhone OS 2.x.

  • Brian Edward Croner

    SIgn me up! I’ll make a video game for an Apple game system any day.

  • ShinobiDark72

    Disgusting. Keep Apple and their overpriced garbage out of the video game industry. The only things they’ve made that were ever worth a damn were the iPhone and iPod line of devices. Anything else from Apple is an utterly useless piece of garbage.

  • Randall Wyatt Roberts

    I can almost guarantee you that Valve will never collaborate with Apple on anything. Gabe Newell has spoken out many times against controlling and isolating platforms with an iron fist. I’m pretty sure “open” anything is against Apple’s mission statement.

  • Alan Mail

    Silly fabricated rumors with no truth

  • Vincent Von Dudler

    If true – as long as Apple doesn’t try collecting subscription fees ia la MS with the XBox requiring a Gold account to do virtually anything (like watch Netflix on top of my Netflix subscription…) I’ll buy one. If I have to subscribe to an Apple service however – no. Not gonna happen. My big problem with AppleTV is that it can’t stream DLNA content from a media server. It’s just common sense, Apple. I would have purchased an AppleTV a LONG time ago if it had this feature that exists on EVERY other console / media player.

About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath is a staff writer at Cult of Mac and co-host of the CultCast. He has been quoted by the likes of the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." If you want to pitch a story, share a tip, or just get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Twitter always works too.

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