SteamOS, “The Model” and Why Everyone Wants to be Apple

So unless you have been living under a rock for the last few days you will know that Steam are launching an operating system based on Linux, and there there will be a set of rolling announcements this week that may or may not have been leaked already.

If the leak is to be believed, you will be able to buy or build your own SteamBox.

The games aspect is great and I’m sure if they solve the keyboard vs controller in the loungeroom issue and the streaming games outside of the US issue and they don’t alienate PC gamers by doing any kind of exclusive to SteamOS AAA content deals, it will be awesome.

And let’s not forget the ability to ‘Cast’. Casting like ChromeCast or AirPlay is rapidly becoming a must have feature on any new hardware platform.

However, for me it’s more that they are moving into the loungeroom and adding Movies/TV and Music to their on-line store.

It comes down to this. Everyone wants to be Apple.

I doubt any CEO would admit to wanting to copy another company but getting some of that iTunes/Netflix river of gold would certainly increase shareholder value 🙂


I don’t mean Steam are literally stalking a single company, for me this is more evidence of the convergence and evolution of hardware and content companies towards a model, lets call it “The Model” seemingly perfected at this point in history by Apple.

‘The Model’ seems to be Device + Storefront + Media. If you have any two you seem to acquire the missing third through market forces. If you are starting out with just one or from scratch you need to assemble the full set Manhattan project style , much like Intel are doing now.

Device – Lets you control and tax (30% from each transaction seems to be the industry standard) the other storefronts you let on your platform.

Storefont – A pre-existing repository of signed up users and credit cards.

Content – To acquire content, companies can directly license content or even just do deals with Netflix and other similar Content App Store Providers.

Apple, Netflix, Google, Amazon, Samsung, Microsoft, Sony, Intel and now Steam have all added or negotiated one or more of these components to bring them into The Model.

Here is a summary of the current platform operators (IPTV centric) and where they started before they decided to adopt “The Model”.

25-09-2013 10-36-11 PM

In my simple analysis;

  1.  The market leaders are those who had the most components of “The Model” to begin with.
  2.  A pre-existing storefront of signed up users and credit cards seems trump not starting with content or hardware.
  3.  Sony should be more successful than they have been.
  4. Intel are taking a big gamble.

I blame Sony’s fragmented storefront UI/UX. In the past, Sony have… not prioritised user experience.  Also their close association with the on-again, off-again also-ran Google TV which had a head start but failed to decide what it wanted to be so was an expensive ‘does everything’ experiment. 

I’ve listed them in order of usability (my judgement) and it seems to me that bad UI/UX trumps good positioning. 

Steam has all the components it needs. In fact it’s technically at a better starting position than Samsung was (existing users beats existing hardware) but unlike Sony, Steam needs to get the user experience right.

Steam may not directly license content, even if they just do deals with Netflix and other Content App Store Providers they will get to up-sell TV episodes and Movies to millions of gamers, who will have already entered their credit card, and take a ‘tax’. 🙂

For those is in the world of IPTV,  existing business is predicated on existing content owners wanting to enter this model.

So yes, everyone wants to be Apple, and it’s great 🙂

About James McParlane

CTO Massive Interactive. Ex Computer Whiz Kid - Now Grumpy Old Guru.
This entry was posted in IPTV and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to SteamOS, “The Model” and Why Everyone Wants to be Apple

  1. metawrap says:

    Update on Intel – seems I called out their risk at the right time…

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