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HTC Launches New Virtual Reality Headsets to Combat Oculus

Taiwanese electronics manufacturer HTC has recently unveiled two new virtual reality headsets, a development being seen as the brand’s attempt to capitalise on the VR technology domain. HTC has recently launched its two new virtual reality (VR) headsets, the Vive Cosmos Elite and the Vive Cosmos Play, at retail prices of 999 and 599 respectively. The company is expected to face competition from Oculus, the Facebook-owned VR headset.

The Vive Cosmos Play is an entry-level VR headset whilst Vive Cosmos Elite is the more premium offering of the two. The company had launched the Vive Cosmos last year.

The Vive Cosmos Play, priced at 599, is set to go on sale during the second quarter of the current year. HTC had released the Cosmos last year at a retail price of 799. The Cosmos Play Elite, with its 999 price tag, is a more feature-rich option. The headsets can be pre-ordered from February 24 and will start reaching customers from March.

The new VR headsets require tethering to a computer and have varying specifications. The Cosmos Play model has four cameras compare to six on the Cosmos Elite. Both headsets use the camera setup for external environment tracking to deliver enhanced VR experiences for users. The Cosmos Play Elite features a tracking plate attachment to connect external accessories such as controllers for use in VR scenarios.

HTC Vive Cosmos series. Image source: htcvive

The new devices launched by HTC will beef up its competitive efforts against Facebook-owned Oculus, a leading maker of VR headsets. In recent times, HTC had run into troubles with its smartphone business, a sector in which it was a top contender. A sizeable section of the HTC smartphone business was purchased by Google in 2017. It was one of the leading global smartphone manufacturers in 2011, but its reputation in the sector is not impressive now. The company has also seen a drastic fall in its share prices since 2011.

HTC is banking on its VR developments to breathe life into its business and halt the falling revenues. VR market growth has not been impressive as expected a few years back. The lack of growth has been evident with only 23.2 million headsets being installed globally in 2019; a meagre 3% rise from the previous year according to research company Omdia. Growth in the future is expected from standalone VR headsets, or those wired to PCs and consoles, as opposed to smartphone-connected options. HTC’s areas of focus include the standalone and PC-tethered VR segments.

But, George Jijashvili, an Omdia senior analyst, thinks that Facebook’s Oculus could provide resilient competition to HTC’s offerings. Speaking to CNBC, Jijashvili stated that HTC might be facing several difficulties. He explained that HTC may be struggling with the problems being tackled by the VR market as a whole. Moreover, their key competitor Oculus, a Facebook-owned company, is selling similarly featured devices at far lower prices. To put things into perspective, the Oculus Quest, retailing at $399, is a lot cheaper than the lowest-priced HTC offering.

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