Razer is in trouble with the FTC over masks it made and sold during the COVID pandemic. The matter is going to cost it around $1.1 million, and some bad press.

Yeah, masks. Not what comes to mind when you think of the word “Razer,” right? You probably associate the brand with gaming keyboards and mice. Heck, I have a Razer mouse plugged into my work computer right now. It’s great. But the company’s masks were not, and that’s a problem.

Not getting its putatively N95 masks properly tested and vetted has landed Razer in trouble with authorities, but the entire saga got us thinking. In an era when we’re seeing buggy electric cars, AI handsets and pins that don’t quite live up to expectations, and even masks that don’t quite mask as promised, are we living in an era of half-baked hardware?

Thinking about this, I wonder if an issue at play is that folks who are pushing the boundaries of what we can build, and how quickly, are applying software strategies — MVPs, quick iterations, etc — to hardware, and it’s not quite converting. The good news is that Razer gaming hardware is still pretty good, even if I suspect the company today regrets digging into the mask space. Hit play, let’s have some fun!

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