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What Price Innovation? ($50m, If You're Razer)

I hope they didn't spend the whole $50m on that

“The PC giants have stopped innovating” claimed Razer boss Min-Liang Tan to Kotaku recently. What he meant, of course, was that Razer’s own projects such as tablet PC/wrestling machine Project Fiona offer the experimental design the Dells and HPs of this world should be pursuing. Fiona’s unveiling seemed to result in a planet-wide raised eyebrow, but I love that it’s happening even if I think it’s doomed, and I certainly don’t disagree that there’s an awful lot more that could be done with the humble PC.
I was looking into buying a new case for mine over the weekend (because I lose important parts of my fingers whenever I try and upgrade anything) and the only choice seemed to be ‘designed by a 14-year-old metalhead’ and ‘perfectly boring box’. So I guess I’m sticking with the overheating aluminium monstrosity I’ve got. Depressing. Are these companies really not interested in getting their hands on the money of people who like nice-looking things? I’d love for my PC to be something I wanted to take pride of place in my home, rather than just be shoved under the desk and letting the monitor take all the credit.

Like an ugly Cylon

Why is PC design so staid? Is it because it’s an open market where no-one wants to rock the boat, for fear of losing marketshare or shareholder confidence? Is it because returns are lower than they used to be? Is it because Apple are hoovering up all the money and parts for their overpriced Macs? A case is admittedly a case, but form factor can make a huge difference to technology’s desirability, so it’s forever surprising that PCs themselves are usually so ugly and plain even after all these years. So I’d happily see more Razers doing batshit crazy things just so the PC can pursue new directions, but given that Tan also declared that the firm has received an amazing $50 million of funding for its mad projects, I suspect they’re a relatively singular entity here. If someone wants to give me $50 million, I promise to come up with some amazing new PC concepts.

Still, while I admire the dedication I can’t really get behind a statement as bold as Tan’s “We say PC gaming is not dead because as long as we’re around, we’ll keep it alive any way we can,” both because, for the million and twelfth sodding time, it’s clearly in absolutely no danger of death and because Intel, NVIDIA and AMD surely have rather a lot more to do with that. Even if they aren’t innovating all that much, as anyone who’s checked out the most recent raft of new CPUs can attest to.

Tan’s clearly aware that his company’s products are divisive, for which I must also give him credit. “PC gamers are passionate. That’s why they either love us or hate us.” I don’t think they’re on the right track with Fiona, but I genuinely can’t wait to see what else is up their anything-goes sleeve.

Also, we must praise Razer to the highest heavens for this:

The only sensible response to SOPA, I’d say.

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Alec Meer

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Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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