HTC's virtual reality efforts have been the subject of leaks and rumors for some time now, but it seems something real is finally getting ready to hit the table. Chairwoman Cher Wang is citing 2016 as the official beginning of HTC's VR business operations, with the launch of the hotly anticipated HTC Vive coming in April. The spiffy new VR headset, which recently had its design revealed, is only a small part of the equation, as HTC will be working hard on developing a content-rich ecosystem around the Vive and upcoming related products.
HTC's list of partners for VR, including video game mammoth Valve, is steadily growing. HTC also plans to open up development for their VR platforms, increase market presence and work more on augmented reality. HTC is apparently looking to run promotions to help familiarize developers with their hardware and software, as well as encourage them to use it. As part of this initiative, they say they'll be distributing 7,000 Vive sets to promising developers. A date wasn't mentioned, but there's a strong possibility this will be done before release so that the new headset and its ecosystem can hit the ground running. HTC's partnership with Valve on the Vive also cannot be ignored here, with implications in the gaming world in general and Steam in particular running deep.
HTC is still looking to secure more deals with content suppliers to bolster the ecosystem on launch. Although the Vive will likely sport compatibility with a decent crop of current non-exclusive VR content, a strong content ecosystem and exclusivity will be a big help in differentiating the Vive from the current crop of VR hardware available. Current partners include VR content developer WEVR, who previously partnered with Samsung, and surgery sim developer SurgicalTheater. A major VR breakthrough was teased for CES by Wang, so it should be noted that this will likely be something that can give HTC a competitive edge in exclusive content and selling points for the Vive. A price point for the device is still unannounced, but it is likely to be priced higher than competitors due to its relatively grand design and the content push that's planned to help move it from shelves to users' hands