HTC just made a big splash in China, announcing its much-anticipated standalone Vive VR headset for the market. The company, however, had a few unexpected surprises. It announced a new “half platform”, the Vive Wave, for the new headset, the Vive Focus. That name was expected to be used for the standalone Daydream headset promised at Google I/O a few months back. Apparently, according to TechCrunch, HTC and Google have decided to scrap that plan even before it had a chance to be born.
HTC’s standalone headsets weren’t much of a secret really. The Daydream-powered Vive headset was already formally announced back in May and HTC continually teased its Viveport-based Chinese model. Until today, it was expected that HTC would have two different standalone headset, both powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835. In the end, however, there could only be one.
The decision to throw in the towel even before the fight has begun may have been due to the rise of Oculus, owned by Facebook, as the de facto VR platform in the West. In addition to the Rift, which now costs only $400, and the smartphone-powered Samsung Gear VR, Oculus just launched the standalone Oculus Go headset, which used content from Samsung’s Gear VR. This preempted the release of a standalone Daydream VR headset, forcing HTC to cut its losses and focus on the market where it has an advantage.
In contrast to the US and other Western markets, HTC Vive has a more stable foothold in China, which explains why HTC is dumping its resources there. Its new Vive Wave platform aims to unify the two threads of PC and mobile VR development into one, happy Viveport family. Unfortunately, that family doesn’t include anything from Google.
This does leave Google’s Daydream without a solid champion, although Google says a wireless headset from Lenovo is still on the table. Google hasn’t exactly been seen as a serious player in the VR market, be it with its Cardboard VR nor with this new Daydream platform. This drastic change of plans is unlikely to spark confidence in it either.