What Happens to the HTC Vive If HTC Folds?

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HTC (the makers of the HTC Vive VR headset) is experiencing no shortage of troubles, according to this report from Engadget:

HTC can’t catch a break. The company has announced that in June its sales fell “nearly 68 percent,” according to Reuters. Earlier this week, the company revealed it would cull some 1,500 employees from its Taiwan manufacturing division in its chase for profitability. The last several years haven’t been kind to the company, rife with reorganizations (including one earlier this year), key staff members resigning and desperate efforts to put money in the bank by seemingly any means possible — including selling its Pixel team to Google for $1.1 billion.

Recently, the company combined its virtual reality and mobile divisions in an effort to refocus. Given this week’s news, and the Pixel sale as evidence, it wouldn’t be surprising if, in a last-ditch effort to return to profitability, HTC sold its Vive team to Valve. The two worked closely on the device, and it’s not like Valve’s coffers will run dry anytime soon.

Where would that leave HTC though, like BlackBerry? Vive is the company’s last stand, from the looks of it, and selling it off sounds like a Hail Mary. More than that, pulling a BlackBerry only works if the handsets HTC produces capture the market, something that hasn’t happened in years. And unlike BlackBerry’s keyboards, HTC doesn’t have one defining feature, let alone two (a reputation for enterprise-grade security). The new reduction in headcount probably won’t have the same financial benefits of the Pixel sale, but we’ll have to wait for HTC’s next earnings report to know for sure.

Which raises the question: what happens to the HTC Vive if HTC folds? It’s unlikely they would shelve the prodcut (as the article mentions, they would probably land up selling the Vive to their partner Valve), but if it does happen, it would leave us with one fewer option for high-end VR headsets.

Given the fierce criticism that the company has received over the expensive pricing of its new Vive Pro headset, in addition to all the other bad news at HTC, it seems possible that they may shut down. A sales drop of 68% is a serious problem. Can HTC survive?

What do you think? Please leave a comment with your thoughts. Thanks!

UPDATE: Michael Siebielec commented on Facebook:

If Vive folds it would send a shockwave through the VR investment community which I believe is on thin ice already. With only Microsoft and Facebook, two big profit only centered corporations that will drop VR in a heartbeat if it doesn’t grow more rapidly from a niche to a billion dollar cash cow in a year or two as those original rosy projections have all soured. Sony only sees VR as a toy add-on that isn’t performing high enough for them to tout enthusiastically at E3 very loudly and MS has no plans for VR on the XBOX One. I love VR but can see it going the way of 3D TV quickly with the next and coming economic downturn. Look how quickly Sony dropped 3D cameras and camcorders as well as the 3D option on their TV lines when profit margins weren’t met. I don’t think Microsoft is really invested in VR at all and at this point is just hoping AR will make those billions for them. Facebook could drop Oculus at the next board meeting if the investors want a little higher dividend next quarter. Hopefully the Asian market will keep growth coming as they are the new economic powerhouse in the world and manufacturers of all the tech. Having to import 3D Blu-ray releases from Europe because US distributors won’t carry a niche product in our fragile economy is a great example of how corporate America will throw consumers under the bus to show a little extra profit on the quarterly spreadsheet. Hopefully we can survive as a niche market until the next commercial VR push when big corporate support fails. Hate to be a downer but I don’t think it looks good at all.

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High Fidelity Launches a Mobile App for Android Devices!

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High Fidelity is really doing some innovative things with their platform! They’ve launched an Android mobile app to allow you to connect to HiFi from your Android-compatible cellphone:

We’re excited to announce that we’ve launched the alpha version of High Fidelity’s Android mobile app (called High Fidelity – Live VR Experiences 32) today! Now, you have the ability to join domains like TheSpot, Mexico, SVVR from your Daydream-ready phone to attend face-to-face events and interact with real people in the virtual world. Please note that this alpha version is not designed for Daydream View.

It’s important to us that testers are able to have an open conversation about feedback and improvements we can make so you can join real, live experiences with other people in virtual spaces right from your phone.

Are you an Android user eager to try out our new app and interested in testing it out?

If so, please fill out this form to add yourself to the list, and we will reach out to you within the next week to start gathering feedback.

Here’s a link to the app on the Google Play store. I’m an iPhone user, so I can’t test this out, but I would be very interested to hear from anyone who is using this app on their Android device. Let me know how well it works!

Participate in High Fidelity Stress Testing and You Can Earn an Amazon Gift Card!

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High Fidelity has announced that they will be holding monthly stress tests of their platform (trying to get as many avatars into one domain as possible), and to encourage people to participate, they are giving away Amazon gift card credits:

Who? You and everyone you know.

What? Every registered attendee who shows up to the event will receive at least $10 in Amazon gift card credit.*

The more people who attend, the greater the rewards.

  • Up to 100 people // $10
  • 100+ people // $15
  • 200+ people // $20
  • 1000+ people // $25

When? Join us the first Friday of every month from 1:30pm to 2:00pm Pacfic

Where? The Spot in High Fidelity

Why? Because we believe VR can grow to Internet-scale, reach 1 billion people, and provide new opportunities for education, employment and entertainment.

How? Register, tell your friends and join us the first Friday of every month.

In order to take part, you must register using EventBrite, and show up at The Spot domain in High Fidelity at 1:45 p.m. Pacific Time.

The first stress test is today (July 6th, 2018). I did try to register, but they tell me the event is “Sold Out”, so I assume that they already have enough potential users signed up. However, you can register for future stress tests now, using the EventBrite website (just click on the Select A Date button near the top of the page). The stress tests are scheduled on the first Friday of every month.

UPDATE: Jess, High Fidelity’s Community Manager, tells me:

There are two types of tickets – one called “High Fidelity’s VR Studio Ticket,” which is to attend at our VR studio in San Francisco. That’s what you’re seeing as sold out. The other type gets you on the guest list to attend from wherever you are, and it hasn’t sold out:

Here’s a picture showing you which one you select:

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SECOND UPDATE: I was able to take a few photos of today’s stress test. Here’s one of Philip Rosedale (on stage, with his arms raised):

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And we got over 200 avatars in one place, which is apparently a new record!

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Here’s an aerial shot of the crowd:

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Metaverse Newscast Update

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Last August, I wrote:

I will be host/co-host of a news program on News One called Metaverse Newscast! This will be a regularly-scheduled 30-minute program focused on news and events in Sansar. (The Metaverse Newscast will also take a look at what’s going on in other virtual worlds such as High Fidelity and Sinespace.)

It was Tyler Scarborough (Dynamic Evolution in Sansar) who first approached me last Friday to discuss the idea of a news show. I decided to call it Metaverse Newcast. He will be building me a news studio!

Tyler did build us a lovely studio, and then the project went on hold because we were all busy doing other things. Well, I am happy to announce that I and my producer, Andrew, are moving ahead with this project after a long delay! We plan to start off slowly at first, but we are moving forward!

We will be broadening the scope of the Metaverse Newscast to cover all the newer metaverse platforms, not just Sansar, High Fidelity, and Sinespace. The pre-taped show will feature interviews with people in the virtual worlds where they are designers, creators, and entrepreneurs.

Follow the blog for more details.