Razer unveiled its thought provoking Project Christine modular PC concept at the CES in January and late last week we had an update on its progress from concept to real world via an interview with CEO Min-Liang Tan. From what we hear it looks like the daringly different PC system is just a little bit too different for any major manufacturer to support by providing modules. A modular PC system lives or dies upon its choice of modules and so far trying to get OEM support has been a fruitless venture says Tan in an interview with Polygon.
The Project Christine design got a mixed reception from HEXUS readers, some of whom thought it was an interesting and stylish idea and others who thought it was just a way to get people to pay more for components for a system that is already modular enough. Razer's machine offered more than just PC components in neat boxes connected to a PCI-Express 'spine' however. Its cable-less mineral oil cooled and sealed modules would also be available on a subscription model with several tiers. For instance top level hardware replaced on 'gold subscriber' machines would trickle down to lower level folk as upgrades came around.
Back to the present day and in the few months following the CES show, third party manufacturer support hasn't been overwhelming for Razer. Tan slams the big OEMs for being entrenched in their commodity priced competition groove; "All they ask about is, 'How much money can I make out of this?' They're not interested in innovation at all." Without at a critical mass of support from several manufacturers Project Christine can't happen because swapping out modules to upgrade with just one or two suppliers is going to pale in comparison to the regular PC market.
Tan believes at least three big OEMs need to supply modules for the project to take off and slates the manufacturers for being bean counters and uninnovative. However it appears he has done the project no favours with his browbeating manner ("Don't you guys even want to innovate?") and lack of product forecasts and projections, telling the OEMs he wishes to court, in his own words "Look, we don't know".
In a recent related news piece Fast Company examined the ideas behind the acid green USB ports Razer claims to have spent $380,000 developing.