Last week HTC held the Vive Developers Conference, Beijing, in which the company finally revealed the Vive Focus; a standalone head-mounted display (HMD) set to launch in the Chinese market in 2018. However, the company has been very standoffish about confirming a western release, despite revealing that a previously announced partnership with Google had been cancelled. So where does this leave HTC’s plans?
According to Stephanie Llamas, VP of Research and Strategy of SuperData, the lack of any hard confirmation of a western release is almost as bad as outright denying a version of the HMD will be made available.
“It’s a shame this will only be available in China for the foreseeable future. This is part of a larger strategy to capture the Chinese market as quickly as possible, but Vive is going to be left behind in Western markets if HTC lets the Oculus GO come to market first, even if their headset is 6DoF instead of the GO’s 3DoF,” stated Llamas. “Standalones are the future of VR, and Vive can be a frontrunner — they just need to get it in front of consumers at a reasonable price.”
The actual story of HTC Vive’s intentions for the western market is somewhat complicated. Shortly after the announcement of the device a third-party confirmed to VRFocus that the Vive Focus would launch in North America and Europe later in 2018. However, HTC Vive then issued a statement to VRFocus which neither confirmed nor denied this fact.
Llamas does acknowledge that the Chinese market is important and that HTC Vive can benefit from targeting that audience first, however is cautious about the aggressive nature of the competition in China.
“The strategy to jump into the Chinese market as quickly as possible has benefited Vive, which is competing against the likes of Chinese tech goliaths Huawei, which is partnering up with TPCast to create wireless headsets that use cloudVR, and Xiaomi, which is also coming out with standalone.”
HTC Vive has promised to deliver more details on plans for a western standalone HMD in 2018 and the likelihood is that the original plan – two similar HMDs with software distribution channels tied to their geographical demographic – is still in place. However, that delay into 2018 could cost HTC Vive as in addition to the Oculus Go, the high-end Santa Cruz HMD from Oculus VR is set to launch late next year. VRFocus will of course keep you updated with all the latest details on the Vive Focus, Oculus Go and Santa Cruz HMDs