It was suggested earlier this year that Valve was rumoured to be working on a console of its very own. Since then, we've gained a better understanding of Valve's intended marketing strategy.
The firm intends to create a 'platform', where Steam can be offered as both a Windows and a Linux client, allowing for integration into a variety of systems at, hopefully, a variety of price-points. To support fully embedded solutions and solutions that may end up on the big-screen, Valve has been working on Big Picture Mode mode for Steam, which will enable a full and large-screen friendly UI, much like the UI on a typical home console. These features will be backed with Valve-certified hardware, with the firm working on some fairly standard and, fairly unique, user interfaces, in the hopes of providing standard controllers for game developers to support.
In a recent interview with GT.TV, Gabe Newell revealed that both Steam's Linux client and Big Picture Mode were almost ready for a beta release. Gabe went on to confirm that Valve has approached hardware manufacturers with its new platform concept, however, Gabe suspects that the fate of new features such as Big Picture Mode will be largely decided by the Steam community.
In essence, Valve has put together a concept platform and will soon be entering the phase when OEMs can try out the idea of a Steam certified/branded device. It'll be interesting to see just what gaming fruit, if any, this idea will bear.