It seems like HTC just can’t catch a break these days. With their smartphone business faltering, they were depending on the HTC Vive to hold them up until they could get themselves put back together. For a while now, it’s been doing a great job. The headset is selling like hotcakes and has a real chance to help HTC save itself, though the Vive can’t do it alone. If the Oculus Rift’s recent growth spurt is any indication, however, the Vive may not get the chance to help HTC dig themselves out of their rut at all. While sales are still going strong, it would seem that the Vive’s rising market share has come to a screeching halt in the face of a sudden spike in sales of the Oculus Rift.
Recent data from Valve, pulled via the Steam Hardware & Software Survey, indicates that the HTC Vive saw incredible market growth for a while, ending up at a cool 66.6% of their current set of VR data by the time the third survey rolled around. In the fourth survey, however, they had dropped to 66% flat. Not only was somebody gaining on them, they were doing it fast enough to essentially flatten HTC’s recent Vive sales in the grand scheme of things. The mystery market participant? The Oculus Rift. When the surveys began, the Rift Developer Kit 2 ruled the charts at almost 80%, with the Vive only laying claim to about 16% of the market. The Developer kit fell as the Vive rose, but all the while, the consumer version of the Rift was slowly on the rise. Jumping from 4.7% to 18.8% in the span of one survey, it surpassed the Developer Kit 2 in the third survey with a cool 19.5%, then got itself all the way up to 27.8% by the fourth.
This incredible growth of the Rift could be chalked up to a number of factors, from more sales to shipping backlogs, but the simple fact is that the market growth of the Vive hit a wall. This could mean a number of things for HTC; the Vive could continue to sell strongly alongside its new competitor, or it could sink. A price war that HTC is in no shape to win could also break out, or the Oculus could pick up steam and utterly stomp the Vive, and HTC’s VR hopes along with it. Whatever may happen, the Rift is a rising star and it’s going to be interesting to see how HTC responds.