HTC Focusing on VR in Effort to Save the Company, Vive Pre-orders Open Feb. 29

by Ian Hamilton • January 11th, 2016

HTC CEO Cher Wang spoke with The Telegraph, offering some insight into the struggling company’s strategy as it seems to be betting everything on VR. She also gave the exact pre-order date for the headset as February 29.

“We had to rethink phones as a company. VR is more important,” Wang told the publication.

We’ve been concerned about HTC for a while, asking as early as August 2015 whether the company could stay focused enough to ship Vive on time. This was back when HTC announced a 15 percent reduction to its workforce with revenue from its Android phones drying up. The company didn’t confirm a Vive delay until December. Vive is now slated to ship in April. With unaudited HTC revenue dropping from $507 million to $308 million in November 2014 and 2015, the holodeck-like Vive headset is looking increasingly like the company’s last chance.

“We feel that we should apply our best design to different type of sectors,” Wang said. “Yes, smartphones are important, but to create a natural extension to other connected devices like wearables and virtual reality is more important.”

The updated Vive Pre is a huge step forward for the company and functionality provided by the outward-facing camera provides a greater sense of security to walk around a room while inside VR. These are features which could be difficult for Oculus to match in Rift’s first generation. However, Facebook’s deep pockets allows Rift to be sold at its cost. The overall goal is to spur consumer adoption of VR and the Oculus platform without seeking immediate profit on hardware. HTC is in desperate need of profit to sustain its business. So with Rift orders already backlogged several months with weeks of pre-orders remaining before Vive goes on sale, will anyone be left to buy Vive at a potentially higher price point? We hope so, because competition is important and Vive will likely serve use cases the initial Rift cannot.

HTC is struggling against Apple, Samsung and others with its phones, but with a focus on VR it might not be inconceivable for HTC to create a Gear VR-like phone holder that’s compatible with the laser tracking of Vive. Such a technological achievement could prop up HTC’s core business and drive phone sales. Is that what Wang is suggesting in the below statement? Or is this an empty promise?

“We have a vision of smartphones with different types of form factors, it won’t always look like this.”

There’s a lot to look forward to with Vive. We went hands-on with the new headset at CES and spoke with Valve’s Chet Faliszek about the potential applications for the device. Check out our videos below.