Road to the Razer Phone: CEO tips 2017 release, IPO war chest

Chris Burns - Sep 21, 2017
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Road to the Razer Phone: CEO tips 2017 release, IPO war chest

This is the closest we’ve gotten to actual confirmation that there’ll be a Razer mobile device in the near future. Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan suggested this week that the device is as we’d expected – at least in one realm. “One of the most hotly hotly rumored things about Razer is that we’re coming up with a mobile device,” said Tan. “And I can say that we are coming up with a mobile device specifically geared toward gamers and entertainment.”

Razer isn’t and hasn’t been in the business of making non-gaming devices since inception. When asked by CNBC’s Christine T about a possible release date, Tan responded, “we’re hoping to have it come in, ah, next quarter…by the end of the year.” While “we’re hoping” could mean things could skew toward 2018, we remain hopeful for a product soon.

In this same interview, Tan mentioned an upcoming IPO in Hong Kong and the possibilities the resulting cash would bring. “We would love to have that war chest to allow us to invest in R&D. We are known to have disrupted many industries,” said Tan. “Having that war chest from the IPO would allow us to do all that and much more. And that’s what we want to continue doing: to make cool products.”

Three plus what?

A point was raised back in May, here again in September by CNBC, that Razer made a deal with mobile company Three (3). The company’s partnership with Three seems relegated to Three’s footprint, that is Austria, Denmark, Italy, Ireland, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Of interest is Christine Tan’s question about “Li Ka-shing’s Three group” – this isn’t strange unless we consider the fact that Li Ka-shing is not the CEO of Three, but the chairman of Three’s parent group, CK Hutchinson Holdings. This CK Hutchinson Holdings has businesses in Infrastructure, Ports, Retail, Energy, and – perhaps most importantly – other telecoms besides Three.

Also included in CK Hutchinson Holdings’ collection of telecoms is Hutchison Asia Telecom Group, Hutchison Telecommunications Hong Kong Holdings, Vodafone Hutchison Australia. In all, that covers Austria, Denmark, Italy, Ireland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and Australia. That’s a lot of the world that’s also – notably – not in the USA.

Not necessarily a phone

It would appear that Tan was careful to say “mobile device” more than once instead of settling on either “smartphone” or “tablet” or “smartwatch” – making us question whether it’ll be as simple as all that. Several major smartphone manufacturers got into smartwatches with relative ease over the last couple of years. There’s also a chance that Razer is making another gaming tablet – this time just a bit more mobile.

Have a peek at our feature from March of 2013: “Razer Edge gaming tablet: What the heck is it?” That Razer Edge didn’t last especially long in the market. Given the success Nintendo’s had with their Switch so far, the idea that the Razer Edge wasn’t a smash success might mean it was out before its time.

Wrap-up

Today’s language aside, it still seems as though a Razer Phone is our best bet. Even though Tan said “mobile device” a few times, a smartphone seems to make the most sense given the company’s acquisition of NextBit back in January. That and a bunch of other building blocks for the ultimate media-friendly gamer smartphone.

They’ve acquired THX for sound, OUYA for the gaming software and connections to a massive number of indy game developers, and NextBit for the phone’s hardware (and more cloud storage expertise). Given the company’s upcoming IPO in Hong Kong and talk of a “war chest” by Tan, it seems obvious to me that they’ll be expanding their acquisition machine before the year is through – for this upcoming mobile device and beyond.


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