Is hardware the new software? Yes, says Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan

The gaming peripheral and laptop maker's head honcho talks about the marriage of product and digital solutions
Is hardware the new software? Yes, says Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan

For years, Razer has been feeding our gaming bodies with hardware, software, and gaming peripherals. But the lines between hardware and software are blurring, according to Razer CEO, co-founder, and creative director, Min-Liang Tan.

He was speaking at the keynote session for Startup Asia 2014, held in Singapore.

As more of us adopt new and emerging technologies, such as Cloud services and mobile apps, a boom in software has resulted in a need for hardware vendors to drive software related solutions.

Tan highlighted some key players in the industry that have challenged the boundaries in offering hardware and software side by side.

“Hardware is hard, but it’s less hard now. There was a time when Microsoft was really popular and everyone looked at Apple and didn’t want to be associated with them. Now, they’ve pushed the industry to get the atoms right,” he said.

He also highlighted the movement of Amazon, from being a company that traditionally dealt with pure Web services to now encompassing everything, Google in buying over businesses like Nest, as well as Microsoft pivoting itself to become a devices and services company. Other players have created a seismic change in the way hardware and software is packaged, too.

In what Tan terms as “hardware 2.0” companies (which are basically businesses that reinvent how people look at hardware), he named GoPro and Jawbone (alongside Razer) as businesses with hardware disrupting software. And by that, he means having purpose built machines with software smarts, hardware upgraded with software, or software monetised by hardware.

“There needs to be a convergence of hardware and software. Interconnected devices bridge that gap and creates a balance of both for a hybrid company," said Tan.

Razer divergence

Is hardware the new software? Yes, says Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan

As we all know, it’s only time before Razer enters the wearable tech space with the launch of its Razer Nabu wrist band.

Tan said that moving into wearables was a natural process for its business. “Traditional tech companies aren’t as good [as a company focused on gaming] at shipping fashion or clothes or wearables, so it was a good fit for us because we know what gamers want.”

Razer is also very nitpicky of what it offers its gaming audience. According to Tan, it only focuses on producing solutions that complement tech consoles it uses. “You can say we’ve got a cult mindset. It’s like how we don’t make Playstation-based solutions because we don’t play on a Playstation much,” he said.

It also doesn’t produce tools that target the mass market, it just carries a few products in each category.

Talk about being micro selective.