This year’s annual CES event, Las Vegas, has brought two major announcements for the virtual reality (VR) industry: HTC’s Vive Pro and Oculus VR’s partnership with Xiaomi for the launch of the Oculus Go in China, set to be known as Mi VR. Both of these announcements will shape the future of VR over the course of 2018, and SuperData Research’s head of immersive technology insights, Stephanie Llamas, offers her insights as to just how this will unfold.
Vive unveils hardware upgrades with the new Vive Pro
What this means: Tethering has been a big issue for VR thus far, which is why the Vive Focus and Oculus Go were designed to hopefully quell that issue. However, Vive is striving to create gold-standard devices (think of it as the iPhone of VR: higher cost, higher quality, lower accessibility), so experience is going to continue to trump affordability. But cost may be the key to adoption, at least in the beginning, so they will need to corner the enterprise market and provide extra compelling content for high-end users until mainstream consumers gradually get hungrier for premium devices.
Oculus VR partners with Xiaomi and Qualcomm to launch the Oculus Go worldwide and the Mi VR Standalone in China
What this means: Facebook can invest in VR without an immediate path to profit, unlike Vive. Therefore, they can afford to create more economical products that will help boost overall penetration and, in turn, make them the primary household name for VR. Oculus is also focusing on Facebook’s strong suits – social media and experiences – rather than invest in hardware development where they don’t need to. Right now, Vive is winning China in regard to high-end devices, so this is Oculus VR’s chance to get into the region by selling to a different market. Meanwhile, Xiaomi, which shipped over a million devices by November 2017, is striving to corner the Chinese standalone and premium mobile markets in the face of their strongest competitor, Huawei, who is working with Oculus VR competitor Google. These partnerships bode well for all companies involved – as long as the quality of experiences are high enough not to deter the general public from VR (the way Google Cardboard did).