HTC claims 15,000 pre-orders in 10 minutes for its Vive VR headset

A possible tidbit of early sales data for one of 2016’s flagship virtual reality systems: the HTC-Valve Vive, which went up for pre-order on February 29 and is due to start shipping on April 5, apparently racked up more than 15,000 pre-orders in less than 10 minutes, according to a tweet by HTC VR dev Shen Ye.

If the figure is correct that sub-10 minute period would have earned the Vive makers a cool $12M in revenue.

HTC did not explicitly refute Ye’s tweet when contacted by TechCrunch about it but a spokeswoman for the company said it had “no further comment on this”.

The Vive costs $799 for a VR headset, two controllers and the two base stations that power HTC’s room-scale head-tracking flavor of VR. It is also necessary to own or buy a powerful enough PC to drive the VR experience so the overall cost of being a Vive early adopter likely runs to well over $1,500.

Of course, even if the 15,000 pre-order figure is correct there’s plenty of caveats here. Pre-order demand can spike early on as early adopters rush in once pre-sales open up to try to bag their purchase. Once that first wave of fan-fueled demand has passed pre-orders may well drop right down. And with HTC declining to contextualize the figure it’s hard to draw too many conclusions from this detail.

Rival VR headset, the Oculus Rift, is also up for pre-order, costing $599 — and also due to ship in April. Oculus has not released any data at all on how Rift pre-orders are going — with CEO Palmer Luckey merely tweeting out some encouraging noises back in January.

Safe to say, even with HTC’s 15k figure we’re very far from knowing the size of VR’s early adopter community. As ever with partial metrics it pays to be skeptical. And if the demand for Vive really is off the chains, there’s little reason to think HTC won’t continue shouting all about it, so let’s see.

One factor that might be giving Vive pre-orders a boost over Rift pre-orders is that the latter’s two proprietary controllers are delayed til the second half of this year — and will require Rift owners to part with more cash to own them.

Whereas HTC has been pushing hard a message that the Vive’s $800 price-tag is the ‘all in’ cost (well, plus the price of a PC… ).

So early VR adopters might be less keen to wait another half year to get a ‘full VR’ experience from Rift — re-routing their demand the Vive’s way instead.

For more on the Vive, read TechCrunch’s interview with HTC’s Drew Bamford