Commentary

Razer smartphone, anyone?

Gaming hardware maker Razer's Singaporean chief executive Tan Min Liang last week tweeted about a job opening that got netizens excited.

The California-based company is looking for a mobile product developer with knowledge of ARM systems and components, and who is attuned to the latest phones, tablets and mobile devices.

So, could Razer be working on a smartphone, possibly an Android one?

While there has been no earlier indication, it wouldn't surprise me if it does.

This is because it would be a natural progression for a company that has garnered a cult following over the years.

Razer already has gaming keyboards, headsets, laptops, ultrabooks and tablets. It has also diversified its portfolio with wearables like the Nabu Watch, and joined the open-source virtual reality (OSVR) platform for VR controllers.

It is only logical that Razer will eventually launch a smartphone.
It is only logical that Razer will eventually launch a smartphone. ST PHOTO: TREVOR TAN

It even has its own software, such as Synapse, which is a unified cloud-based configuration software that saves gaming macros.

And Razer will soon be entering the living room with its Forge TV, an Android TV console which allows gamers to stream games from PCs or Android mobile devices to their TV sets.

Forge TV comes with Cortex, Razer's gaming eco-system that has hundreds of Android TV games and apps.

Indeed, with its ambition and growing list of products, I have been wondering why Razer hasn't already entered the smartphone market.

In the past, Razer released the Edge Pro tablet designed for PC gamers. While critically acclaimed, this gaming tablet probably did not sell well going by the lack of a successor. In fact, it wasn't even sold here.

But I believe that Razer could have better luck with an Android smartphone, especially one targeted at gamers.

Hop on the MRT, and you see plenty of commuters swiping their smartphones playing Candy Crush Saga (why are some people still playing this game?) or Clash Of Clans.

The global mobile games market is expected to generate a revenue of US$36.9 billion (S$50.2 billion) this year, according to market research firm Newzoo.

That's 37 per cent of the global games market.

Last year, it was worth US$30.4 billion. Newzoo predicts that the mobile game market will grow to a staggering US$52.5 billion by 2019.

Games from Google Play Store took up 38 per cent of the global mobile market last year, according to mobile intelligence firm TalkingData.

Thus, Razer having an Android smartphone would very much cater to the needs of gamers. Especially from a brand known for building products for gamers.

Furthermore, Razer has quite a big pool of followers who are all too happy to get a Razer-branded T-shirt or hoodie, not to mention, a Razer-branded smartphone.

Like Apple, Razer is starting to build its own walled garden, from its laptops to its wearables, glued to its products.

A Razer smartphone is just the icing on the cake.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 11, 2016, with the headline 'Razer smartphone, anyone?'. Print Edition | Subscribe