Razer’s glorious, ambitious vision of the future of modular gaming PCs isn’t going over well with PC manufacturers.
Razer unveiled Project Christine at CES 2014 in January, but CEO Min-Liang Tan told Polygon that gamer enthusiasm for the idea hasn’t been matched on the industry side.
“We’ve been trying to speak to other OEMs and I think the response has been generally, ‘OK, what’s the forecast for this? How many units are you going to ship? What are the margins?’ and stuff like that where we’re being very open with them to say, ‘Look, we don’t know,’” he said.
Razer received a similar response when it debuted the Blade, an ultra-thin and quite expensive gaming laptop. Nobody expected the concept to take of, but it did, with Razer struggling to meet demand. In that case, Razer was able to make the entire unit in-house, but with Project Christine, Tan is determined to create an open ecosystem where consumers have choice and market competition drives prices.
“Christine’s a bit different because if we went out and built our own modules and platform, we would literally be creating a walled garden, which is something that we don’t want to do,” he said.
“We want to be able to go out there with a couple of big OEMs and be able to say, look, maybe Razer does all the super high-end stuff. You guys can do all the mass-market stuff and stuff like that.”
Tan said the PC market currently rewards commoditisation, not innovation.
“It rewards mediocre, shitty project because it’s become this vicious cycle of sorts. Anyone who tries to innovate, like for Christine, everybody wants it, but they all want it to be immediately at commodity pricing,” he said.
“And that’s the thing, we’re trying to encourage the rest of the OEMs, and we’re literally telling them, ‘Look, we’re not going to make a cent out of this. We just want to be part of an ecosystem; we’re happy to open this up to everyone to do that.’”
Razer, a “tiny company”, is willing to share its design schematics with much larger manufacturers, Tan added.
“It’s got to be open. It’s got to be stuff that you can swap out modules and stuff like that because we won’t always have the best, for example, say, sound module,” he said.
“So, I believe that Christine, to be perfect, the utopian ideal is really an entirely open system, and at least, I’m not saying that every OEM should take on, immediately, but I think at least three to five OEMs together, we could make a huge difference to the entire PC landscape.”