Cellular World Congress 2016
Regardless of not unboxing a new excessive finish smartphone at Cellular World Congress this week, embattled cellular maker HTC has advised TechCrunch it’s not able to admit premium defeat — saying it has a brand new flagship gadget coming quickly.
It’s additionally hinted it may contemplate moving into cellular VR in future — presumably as a step to attempt to revive curiosity in its premium smartphones. Earlier this month the corporate posted a $one hundred and one million internet loss for This fall 2015, with CFO Chialin Chang admitting gross sales of its flagship HTC One M9 “fell in need of expectation” final yr.
In the meantime, this time final yr the corporate took the wraps off of a excessive finish VR headset — referred to as Vive — plus partnership with video games writer Valve to construct a digital actuality ‘experiences’ ecosystem. So it has a minimum of been driving excessive on current plentiful VR hype.
A yr on from the Vive unveiling, the pair introduced pricing for his or her ‘room-scale’ VR expertise at MWC16. The headset, which can go on sale in April, prices $800 (plus the worth of a strong sufficient PC to drive it).
So, as with rival system the Oculus Rift, it’s not being priced for mainstream adoption — leaving loads of room for a extra price range VR expertise, a la Samsung’s smartphone-powered Gear VR, ought to HTC determine it will probably afford to unfold itself somewhat extra thinly.
Requested immediately about the potential for the corporate making a telephone-powered VR headset, Drew Bamford, company VP of HTC’s Artistic Labs, advised TechCrunch: “I can’t touch upon our future roadmap however you possibly can think about HTC is as design led and innovation led enterprise and naturally it might make sense for us to work on extra sorts of VR merchandise, and merchandise that unite our telephone enterprise and our VR enterprise in ways in which make sense.”
Firm chairperson Cher Wang was quoted in The Telegraph final month saying VR is now the primary precedence for the corporate, telling the paper: “Sure, smartphones are necessary, however to create a pure extension to different related units like wearables and digital actuality is extra necessary.”
Regardless of Wang apparently de-emphasizing smatphones by prioritizing VR, Bamford stated HTC stays dedicated to the telephone area — and never simply to creating mid-vary units both (at MWC this week it launched a clutch of mid-vary handsets, leaving new premium choices from Samsung and LG to go unchallenged).
So have we seen the final flagship gadget from HTC? “No, completely not,” stated Bamford. “And actually it is best to anticipate an announcement about our subsequent flagship very quickly.”
“We’re completely dedicated to creating the world’s most fascinating, greatest telephone merchandise in each the premium phase, with the One collection, the M Collection, and within the mid vary with the Want merchandise,” he added.
“And we’re persevering with — one of many causes I’m right here this week is we’re speaking to our operator companions about our subsequent era telephone merchandise, and there’s all types of thrilling work happening there. We may have some actually cool stuff available on the market.”
Final month HTC additionally denied rumors it’s trying to spin out its VR enterprise right into a standalone firm. Such a transfer is perhaps untimely — provided that mass market VR adoption is extra more likely to come from a $one hundred-priced system like Samsung’s Gear VR than a $800+ excessive finish system. So having each a excessive finish VR play and a smartphone enterprise beneath one roof may place HTC to plug into each (nascent) markets.
“We’ve a number of priorities. This can be a widespread theme at HTC,” added Bamford. “There’s all the time multiple precedence. Definitely the telephone enterprise can also be a precedence. And nonetheless far and away our largest enterprise and actually we’ve solely simply began promoting the wearables in January. And we have now not began the VR product so truly telephones is our foremost enterprise completely.”
Bamford went on to explain the “drawback” of designing how totally different related merchandise work collectively as each “actually thrilling” and “a chance”.
“Lately in interplay design a few of the most fascinating alternatives are how do you make disparate merchandise perform as a system,” he stated. “We’ve tackled that at a smaller scale with our wearables – with the Healthbox which is a package of three merchandise which are built-in right into a system, united by a software program and repair again finish.
“And there’s a chance to try this at a better degree with telephones, wearables and VR. Take into consideration how do these product classes work collectively.”