The latest competitor in the PC market? Valve Software

Valve has hinted at building hardware in a job post, and co-founder Gabe Newell has said they'll build it if they need to. Let's hope Valve can deliver a PC faster than Half Life 3.

Last week I wrote about how Vizio, the folks who make inexpensive HDTV sets and cornered the market with a smart strategy, are getting into the PC business. They argued that the PC market had grown stagnant, lazy and lost its sense of innovation.

Someone agrees with them. That someone is Gabe Newell of Valve Software. Yes, the gaming company, makers of the 2011 Game of the Year (according to a lot of sites and publications) "Portal 2," and the company behind the biggest vaporware since "Duke Nukem Forever," the third games in the "Half-Life" series.

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In a post on the Valve jobs page, there is an entry for an Industrial Designer, which reads (in part): "We're frustrated by the lack of innovation in the computer hardware space though, so we're jumping in. Even basic input, the keyboard and mouse, haven’t really changed in any meaningful way over the years. There's a real void in the marketplace, and opportunities to create compelling user experiences are being overlooked."

I couldn't agree more, and I’ve said so in the past. The PC business has fallen into the rut of zero value-add, bloatware, and the same basic components with faster specs. Booooooring.

This isn't the first time Valve has been the subject of rumors. A few months back it was speculated that the company would put out its own console, putting it in direct competition with Microsoft. The Steam Box, as it was called, would support sales directly through Valve's Steam service, which sells games for hundreds of publishers.

Valve co-founder Gabe Newell, an ex-Microsofty, recently told the gaming blog Penny Arcade "Well, if we have to sell hardware we will."

Clearly, Valve is feeling frustration with the PC sector. My question is what will they create? There is a high-margin niche in PCs for power users. Alienware, owned by Dell, and Falcon Northwest specialize in the most insanely-powered PC rigs for gamers. We're talking not just overclocking but water cooling and two or even three top-end video cards running in parallel on PCs in the $5,000 range.

However, that's not a huge market and I wouldn't want to go up against Falcon and Dell. But I am curious to see what new ideas Newell has for the PC, because I do agree that there is pretty much no innovation taking place around it these days, beyond faster and faster.

And Gabe, if you design the cases to look like the weighted cube and the PC speaks in the GLAdOS voice, you got me, you monster.

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