We got a great hands-on look at the HTC Vive last week at CES and were wowed by the immersive demos (some of which didn’t play so nicely with our own Marco Chiappetta). After informing us last month that shipments of the consumer version of the Vive would be delayed until April, HTC CEO Cher Wang revealed that pre-orders for the VR headset will actually commence on February 29th.
While we now have a pre-order date set in stone along with an April timeframe for shipments, the only big thing left to reveal is the price. Oculus shocked and disappointed many potential customers when it announced a $599 price tag for its Rift. All signs are pointing to an even higher price tag for the Vive, which is being co-developed by Valve. HTC Connected Products Marketing Executive Director Jeff Gattis has previously stated that the Vive will be “high end” device aimed at delivering a “premium VR experience.”
Regardless of what its final price tag will be, the “premium” positioning means that this will be a device that will be snatched up by well-healed early adopters instead of broadening the appeal of virtual reality tech by reaching a more mainstream audience.
HTC recently begin shipping its second generation Vive developers kit, which includes a redesigned headset with upgraded displays, a front-facing camera, inserts to better adapt to your head, and redesigned handheld wireless controllers. The revised developer kit also will look more like the shipping version that consumers will get their hands on in April.
In a recent interview, Wang expressed her desire for HTC to focus less on smartphones — a segment which has brutal to the company in recent years — to focus on more niche areas like the VR segment. “Yes, smartphones are important, but to create a natural extension to other connected devices like wearables and virtual reality is more important," said Wang.
Wang also went on to explain HTC’s smartphone downfall and its primary cause, stating, “I think the problem was competition – Apple, Xiaomi, these companies spend tons of money on communications and marketing, they pump a huge amount of investment into the market. There are a lot of Chinese competitors.”