The HTC Vive VR headset is slated to go retail on April 5. Based on Valve Software’s SteamVR platform, the Virtual Reality device packs OLED screens with a resolution of 1080×1200 per eye, and more than seventy sensors. Unlike the upcoming Oculus Rift, the Vive can work in a space of 15 feet by 15 feet, allowing users to move around the virtual world. However, the headset will cost a meaty $799 and require a somewhat beefy PC to support it.
So what if you don’t have an extra $799 to spend on VR? There’s always the Samsung Gear VR for $99, but that requires a specific set of Samsung phones in order to provide the VR experience – and those phones without a contract are all in the $800+ range. There’s also Google Cardboard, which supports Android and iOS platforms, but you won’t get nowhere near the high-quality VR experience as seen on the HTC Vive.
But there’s good news. HTC is reportedly working on a VR headset that works on smartphones and tablets. Of course, it may not be the high-quality experience that’s seen on the Vive, but HTC’s Raymond Pao (Associate Vice-President, VR New Technology), reassured the media that the company won’t release the product until it can provide “the best immersive experience to consumers.”
“It is a very important research direction,” Pao said. The move is reportedly part of HTC’s strategy of creating an additional stream of revenue.
Pao also talked about the HTC Vive, saying that pre-orders of the headset have gone beyond the company’s expectations. He didn’t reveal just how many units have been ordered already, but HTC’s VR product specialist Shen Ye previously said that HTC took in more than 15,000 orders within the first ten minutes. The pre-order program launched back on February 29.
According to China Daily, HTC plans to launch more than 100 “VR experience” stores in 2016 so customers can see what the HTC Vive is all about (and VR in general which can’t be fully described in text). The company is also in negotiations with numerous Internet cafes and other partners scattered across the globe. HTC even signed a VR gaming deal with Hangzhou Shunwang Technology Co., Ltd back in November, a $20 billion company which provides Chinese Internet cafes with management software.
Beijing-based analyst She Shuanglin told China Daily that the company will reach more “price-sensitive” customers by developing smartphone-based VR headsets. The company will likely release phones that will bring a great VR experience to the new hardware, presumably following Samsung’s Gear VR roadmap. However, overcoming the competition (Samsung) will not be “an easy job.”
HTC is reportedly seeing increased competition on the smartphone market thanks to the likes of Samsung and LG Electronics. However, the VR industry is expected to be worth $20 billion by 2020, a sector that HTC is taking part of with the upcoming launch of the Vive. The company would be playing it smart by cashing in on the revenues created by an upcoming smartphone-based VR headset as well.
Last month, Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg said that Samsung Gear VR owners had watched more than one million hours of video in VR since its launch back in November 2015. He also added that more than 200 games and apps are now available for the Gear VR in the Oculus Store. That said, it’s no surprise that HTC is jumping on the smartphone VR bandwagon.