Irvine, US, January 30 — US-based gaming gear company Razer reports to acquire Nextbit Systems, the San Francisco startup behind the Robin cloud-focused smartphone. No financial details of this deal are available.
In the press release of Razer, they confirm that all of Nextbit System’s staff, including management, will be retained. They will keep supporting already sold phones. Whether or not they will keep selling the Robin smartphone is not clear.
As of now, Nextbit Systems will continue to run as its own organization and standalone business. How they will or will not work together with Razer’s core business, gaming gear, and accessories, is not clear. There is no evidence for a Razer-branded gaming smartphone to be released in the foreseeable future.
Nextbit Systems investors and Kickstarter
In 2014, Accel Partners invested $18m in a Series A funding round. That included capital from GV (Google Ventures) and Rich Miner. Later in 2015, Nextbit Systems received an undisclosed amount of capital by, the Japanese VC, Dentsu Ventures.
Also in 2015, Nextbit made use of the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter to ensure they had enough committed buyers before engaging in the manufacturing of the phone. They achieved their goal of $500,000 and got 3,611 backers to support them with a total of $1,362,343. They communicated well with the community throughout this project and delivered a good job to distribute the phone to all the buyers. Later the phone was offered on their website for $299 instead of the planned $399.
“Nextbit is one of the most exciting companies in the mobile space,” says Razer Co-Founder and CEO Min-Liang Tan. “Razer has a track record of disrupting industries where our technology and ability to design and innovate have allowed us to dominate categories with longstanding incumbents, such as the peripherals and laptop categories. With the talent that Nextbit brings to Razer, we look forward to unleashing more disruption and growing our business in new areas.”
“In order to reach a wider audience and continue our mission, we decided to join with a larger brand,” says Tom Moss, Nextbit Systems Inc. Co-Founder and CEO. “We’re lucky to have found a company in Razer that shares our value of pushing the boundaries of what our devices can do.”
Weak aspects of the Robin smartphone
It is unclear whether or not Razer will leverage the Nextbit resources to introduce a gaming-focused smartphone in the future or not. Based on the review of the Robin smartphone by Nextbit systems we could identify at least two negative things about their solution.
One problem was that the cloud storage could not be accessed via a web interface or any other means than a Robin phone. That means all the photos that were managed in the Nextbit cloud storage, could not be easily retrieved in case you lost your phone.
The other problem was that the Robin phone could not survive even a mild Winter. It didn’t even have to snow and the Robin phone would first have symptoms of bad performance and minutes later die and shut down. Trying to boot it up again would only result in another shutdown without avail until you make it back home or somewhere warm.
After testing I came to the conclusion that the Robin smartphone was not on par with many other Android phones within that price segment. The design was great but the components and the software were behind.
Razer is a world leader in connected devices and software for gamers. Razer is transforming the way people play games, engage with other gamers and identify with the gamer lifestyle. Having won the coveted “Best of CES” award consecutively for seven years, the company’s leadership in product innovation continues to create new categories for the gaming community that is estimated to have over 1 billion gamers worldwide. Founded in 2005, Razer is backed by Intel Capital, IDG-Accel and Heliconia Capital Management (Heliconia), a wholly owned subsidiary of Singapore investment company Temasek.
About Nextbit Systems
Nextbit Systems Inc. was founded in 2013 by early Android veterans Tom Moss and Mike Chan and is based in San Francisco. In order to produce a groundbreaking phone that would challenge common smartphone shortcomings, Moss and Chan brought-on former HTC design lead Scott Croyle as chief design and product officer in 2014. The company launched Robin in 2015 as proof that software ingenuity can create performance beyond mere hardware specifications.
YouTube: Meet Robin.
Photo credit: Nextbit Systems
Source: Author reviewed Robin smartphone himself / Kevin Scarpati, Alain Mazer, Jan Horak, Nicholas Ferguson, Evita Zhang (Razer press release) / Crunchbase
Editorial notice: The quotes and the about-text were provided by Razer as part of a public press release.