Where hardware meets software: Razer CEO talks going 2.0

Software + hardware from the start

For a company that makes gaming mice, headphones, keyboards and laptops, its software and connected device figures are nothing to scoff at. According to Razer, it has 2.5 million daily active users across its entire software platform, 7.5 million using Razer software at large, and a total of 11 million connected devices shipped to date.

The drive to be more than a thing maker has been there from the start.

"Right from the get-go, the vision of the company was to be a software company with hardware integration," Tan said.

Gamers can see this philosophy come to life in moves like making Synapse available on legacy devices, and it continues with newer products like the Nabu smartband.

"With Nabu, this is a further integration that we're really focused on," Tan said. "Nabu will allow [gamers] to connect back into the platform that we built. We were passionate about that from Day One."

Nowhere else is the software-meets-hardware approach more apparent than Razer Comms, where Razer is "really weaving the hardware and software really tightly into an integrated platform," according to Tan.

Comms is a free communication platform that provides VoIP and group chat instant messaging. Tan said it will be integrated into upcoming games, with "some pretty large developers" building Comms into their titles.

"What we're really excited about is that it will be an open development platform," Tan said, noting game makers will be able to utilize an SDK. Razer Comms is even available on Android, and iOS users will have access later this year.

Tan isn't shy about Comms potential for success: "We think it's going to be one of the largest gaming communication platforms."

It ain't easy

The old adage about picking one thing and doing it well doesn't quite seem fit in these hardware 2.0 times. Not that there's anything wrong with the approach, but if you want to provide customers with an overall experience, not just a product, you better be willing to diversify.

It may be becoming the reality of the times, but it's not an easy undertaking.

"Trying to do a hardware or software company alone is very, very difficult," Tan said. But in spite of - or maybe because of - the difficulty, there's joy to be had for customers when a company is willing to do both.

Says Tan: "[The] software platform really allows us to provide some really cool services to the users."

Michelle Fitzsimmons

Michelle was previously a news editor at TechRadar, leading consumer tech news and reviews. Michelle is now a Content Strategist at Facebook.  A versatile, highly effective content writer and skilled editor with a keen eye for detail, Michelle is a collaborative problem solver and covered everything from smartwatches and microprocessors to VR and self-driving cars.