HTC will offer a mobile VR solution, and it’ll work with the company’s new top-end smartphone, the U Ultra, but it’ll be more than just a headset that lets the smartphone do most of the work like the Samsung Gear VR, according to HTC CFO Chia-lin Chang, who spoke to CNET. The plan is to introduce their mobile VR product sometime before the end of the year, Chang added.
HTC is increasingly focusing on VR as one of its largest product categories, and launched the dedicated HTC Vive headset in partnership with Valve last year. The Vive is an expensive device, however, and one that also requires an expensive gaming PC to run. The overall cost is a big contributing factor in terms of its ability to reach a large number of customers – Samsung leads the pack by a wide margin in terms of overall sales, and Vive likely sold only somewhere south of 500,000 units, depending on which estimates you believe.
HTC’s not going to just replicate the Gear VR or Daydream approach, however, based on Chang’s comments. He told CNET that the company has “a good plan in terms of combining mobility with VR,” and added that “it’s not a phone slapped into a headset.” Chang also reiterated the importance of VR to the company’s overall efforts, adding that “we’re a VR company, we’re going to have something” in terms of a mobile offering.
This isn’t the first time HTC has talked about mobile VR. At last year’s MWC show, it admitted that a product to “unite” its phone and VR businesses “would make sense,” while adding that it wouldn’t comment on its future roadmap.
Some kind of mobile approach to VR that does more than just turn the phone into a small VR viewer sounds like an interesting concept, though of course we’ll have to learn more about HTC’s plans before we can evaluate the soundness of the strategy. But untethered VR is still a huge opportunity, so perhaps whatever HTC has in mind will aim to free up range of motion and your reliance on a large computer for high-quality VR experiences.