VR vs. Daydream: HTC Vive Focus Side-Steps Google’s VR Platform

HTC Vive has abandoned the Google partnership, what does this mean for Daydream?

HTC Vive’s standalone head-mounted displays (HMDs) came into the public consciousness back in May of this year when the company was revealed to be partnering with Google at Google I/O. Since then new information has trickled out from the company slowly, but the attention has turned to the Chinese market, with the Vive Focus being announced late last night.

Vive Focus headset

The Vive Focus is the frontline of a new virtual reality (VR) ecosystem HTC has developed for China. Vive Wave is an open platform that will allow multiple HMDs from different manufacturers to develop content through a unified platform – similar to Microsoft’s efforts with the Windows Mixed Reality platform – and the company’s existing distribution platform will remain central to the Vive Focus’ software retail model following the announcement of new Viveport subscription packages. Where then, would Google’s Daydream platform fit into the model?

It had previously been clarified that HTC Vive was in fact working on two different versions of the standalone HMD: one for China and one for western markets. It’s no longer the case that the Google Daydream platform will remain integral to the western edition of the standalone HMD, currently believed to be known as the Vive Eclipse, however we’re yet to hear anything about a release since Graham Breen, HTC Vive Program Manager, discussed the situation with VRFocus back at Gamescom, Cologne, in August.

Rikard Steiber, President Viveport and SVP, reiterated that there would be two editions of the standalone HMD earlier this month, but HTC remain tight-lipped about what the western edition of the HMD will use to distribute content.

Google’s own Clay Bavor, VP, Virtual and Augmented Reality, tweeted early this morning that the partnership between Google and HTC for a Google Daydream HMD had been terminated, but that Google content will still be available for the standalone HMDs from HTC. He then reiterated that the previously announced Lenovo standalone HMD for Google Daydream is still going ahead.

Of course, it’s highly possible that HTC will want to utilise both Vive Wave and Viveport for the western edition of the standalone HMD also, but no further information relating to that has yet been made available. VRFocus has of course contacted HTC for further information.

Where this leaves Google Daydream is another discussion, however. It’s no secret that Google has been desperately trying to secure unique content for the platform and that the push for VR on the Pixel 2 and Pixel XL 2 has been somewhat muted compared to the first generation handsets. Only time will tell whether the cancellation of a Vive branded HMD supporting the Google Daydream platform will see the first major platform holder close its doors on VR.

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