I really like what Valve's doing to give PC the ability to rival the console. In the console v. PC wars, PC advocates are always quick to slap console owners in the face with specs and frame rates, but they never touch the aspect of comfort and ease of use.
The one thing consoles have mastered is the couch. For many, the PC experience consists of a mouse and keyboard, which greatly limits the environment that PC games can be played in. It's impossible to use a mouse lying around on a couch. It's even more unwieldy to throw a keyboard in the equation. Controllers are able to fit in a players hand, and never have to move from that spot. All of the dragging and pulling of the mouse is handled by two joysticks, which never move from their spot. They don't care about the surface of their surroundings either.
However, analog sticks lack the precision of a mouse. This little specialty makes it really hard for gamers to switch from their chair to their couch. Many PC players will give up comfort in able to match the precision of their opponents. It doesn't matter if someone's playing Counter Strike with a controller, joystick, or racing wheel; as long as they're on PC, they're going to be facing players with a more precise peripheral. When comparing the performance of the two inputs, one's clearly inferior.
What Valve is doing is closing that gap. While the Steam Controller might not be a 1:1 match to a mouse and keyboard - it's coming close. No longer is there an unfair advantage of using a mouse, because the trackpads are actually able to compete with mice. They beat pointing precision and deadzone (amount of distance a stick has to move before it's registered) of a normal controller, while still being considered a controller. This increase in accuracy won't satisfy the needs of the top hardcore competitors, but will be enough to get the more casual audience on board, because they won't have to worry about choosing between comfort and not getting absolutely destroyed online.
The other thing that they're doing is fighting the idea that PCs are harder to use. The Steam Machine is, essentially, a mini-ATX computer running a custom Linux distro. No longer can console supporters argue the difficulty of building a PC - it's being done for them. No longer can they cry about the inability to fit a pre-built in their entertainment stand - it's the same size of a console (and there's always Steam Link). Since everything's being run through Steam, incompatibility is going to be a rare problem when buying a game. This combination of features removes most of the problems that gamers face when trying to convert to PC.
What Valve is doing is trying to beat consoles at what they're good at, while also retaining the benefits of PC gaming. Will it work? I guess we'll have to find out.