It’s starting to look as if 2016 could be the year virtual reality (VR) finally arrives en masse. Just days after Oculus announced that its much-anticipated Rift headset would drop for a cool $599, HTC revealed that its model, dubbed the Vive, would be available for pre-order come February 29.
HTC CEO Cher Wang told the Telegraph that the company is planning to refocus itself around VR products, saying that the burgeoning virtual reality sector has become more important to the Taiwanese electronics manufacturer than its traditional core market of smartphone handsets. The company is expected to begin shipping the Vive (pictured), which it has been developing in collaboration with video game developer Valve, in April.
Medical, Education and Retail Applications
Those dates probably can’t come fast enough for HTC. The company was once one of the biggest handset manufacturers, with models such as the Nexus line of Android phones.
But competition from Chinese manufacturers on the low end and the Apple iPhone on the high end has squeezed the company almost out of the market. While it once commanded a 10 percent share of the smartphone market, it has since collapsed to around one percent, bringing the company’s stock price down with it and sparking rumors of a possible acquisition.
The pressure on its smartphone business significantly raises the stakes for the Vive’s debut. HTC has been steadily building anticipation for the new device ever since it was first announced last March.
“We have focused on developing immersive content, refining both hardware design and user experience, and building relationships with new partners both inside and outside of the gaming industry,” the company wrote on its blog in an update on the Vive’s status last month.
“In collaboration with Valve, we have been distributing the HTC Vive developer kits to developers and content creators, and are continuing to work with many other innovative companies to create content that spans gaming, entertainment, medical, education and retail,” according to the company.
As part of its strategy to build interest in the platform, which uses Valve’s Stream VR technology, the company hosted a developer conference in Beijing last month, and debuted the second generation of the Vive’s development kit at CES 2016 in Las Vegas last week. The company said it is also making an additional 7,000 units of the Vive available to developers before pre-orders begin. HTC will also be revealing more information about what sort of content will be on the Vive later this month.
That may not be enough to win the upcoming VR platform wars, however. Besides Facebook’s Oculus, which is set to ship in March, HTC will also have competition from the likes of Playstation and Gear, which are developing their own systems.
Pricing is likely to be another crucial issue. Although HTC hasn’t revealed the cost of the Vive, Facebook has already announced the Oculus will be coming in at $599. The Vive will likely retail for at least that much, but its success could hinge on how HTC positions it relative to the other upcoming platforms.
Posted: 2016-01-12 @ 2:10am PT
What are you chatting? The HTC line of Nexus phones? HTC made a single Nexus phone, just like most manufacturers, as a collaboration with Google. Nexus is a Google line of phones.