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HTC’s Global Head of Product on VR’s ‘race to the bottom’ • Alaska Green Light Blog

HTC’s Global Head of Product on VR’s ‘race to the bottom’ • Alaska Green Light Blog

#HTCs #Global #Product #VRs #race #bottom #Alaska Green Light Blog Welcome to Alaska Green Light Blog, here is the new story we have for you today:

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It was the year of XR. But then again, they all seem to be these days. Strong presences from Meta, Magic Leap, Sony and HTC led the way at this year’s CES, with hundreds of startups bringing up the rear. I was dazzled by some of the demos, but ended up wondering what form true mainstreaming of AR/VR might eventually take – if it ever takes such a form.

There’s something about technology that feels warm and inviting after a long day on your feet as you weave your way through Las Vegas venues. Strap on a headset and feel the exhibition space slip away for a minute or two. I think most people trying these technologies in this context get it, but there are far too many barriers to getting these products on most people’s faces right now.

Good VR is still prohibitively expensive. The content is also quite limited. Both factors are certainly moving in the right direction, but it’s a big, open question whether they’re doing so fast enough to reach critical mass in this iteration of the perpetual hype cycle.

HTC’s approach is still baby steps. It is the realization that – despite years of differing opinions – real mainstream acceptance is still a long way off. In the meantime, that means focusing on a core audience. It means it’s okay to remain a relative niche — a far cry from the Taiwanese maker’s high-flying days as a phone maker — while chipping away at the big granite rocks that stand between it and the general public.

For HTC, the Vive XR Elite was the star of the show. At $1,099, it’s a few hundred bucks cheaper than Meta’s Quest Pro, but still far too expensive to call it any sort of breakthrough for the industry at large.

“This is for an audience that wants an enhanced experience,” Shen Ye, senior director, the company’s global head of product, said in an interview with Alaska Green Light Blog, “gamers and just people who want a good headset that’s comfortable. “

At this point in the development process, it might be unfair to set the bar for success in an XR headset in every home. Leap Motion’s well-publicized fights are a decent barometer here. The fact that the company has made a direct turn to the company is all the more relevant. There’s a lot of money to be made from selling products to companies – certainly more than is currently being spent on pure consumer games.

HTC has undoubtedly made some impressive strides here. I can’t say I spent a lot of time in the XR Elite, but the headset was as comfortable and responsive as advertised. It’s a piece of the puzzle that has long felt like an afterthought for manufacturers. It’s an odd thing to overlook with a piece of hardware that’s designed to sit on your face for long stretches.

Photo credit: HTC

Ye compares potential buyers to gamers who have been patiently – and frustratingly – waiting for the arrival of a Pro version of Nintendo’s popular convertible console

“To this day, people still want a Switch Pro,” he tells Alaska Green Light Blog. “They want something wearable, but they want something better. Mobile VR is currently like that. There is no reasonable upgrade. People who want a good experience get stuck with these products that are going down.”

The “race to the bottom” he’s referring to here is precisely the main talking point in the context of mainstream acceptance: the price. The market has been flooded with inexpensive VR solutions for years, from Google Cardboard/Daydream to Samsung Gear VR to thousands of products and companies you’ve never heard of. One can credibly argue that these things ultimately did more harm than good. They’ve done a good job of getting a version of virtual reality into many hands, but if that experience isn’t great, it’s easy to imagine these folks writing off paying a lot more money for VR in the future.

“I do think there will be much cheaper headsets one day,” Ye says of HTC’s efforts. “But right now, our focus is on how to better drive the market to make it better, more inclusive, and better experiences.”

One thing is for sure: HTC is committed to VR at a level that few have. Vive hardware and related software/Metaverse technologies are the company’s main focus as the phone business has slowed to a trickle (remember last year’s “Metaverse” phone, the Desire 22 Pro?). The future of the company depends on its ability to advance VR/XR. It can be difficult to embrace a technology while remaining pragmatic about the speed and scope of its potential growth.

Many in the industry are looking to Apple in particular for confirmation. The hope is that the company will enter the AR or XR category guns blazing and the buzz will be a tide that lifts all boats.

“I think the beauty of a new Apple is that it’s not a social media company,” says Ye. “The giants that are really trying to break out are in this race to the bottom, making cheap headsets that they are losing money on. At the end of the day, what does your personal data cost? We are not a social media company. Our business model isn’t based on ad revenue, so it’s not something we do. We want to build good hardware.”

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