HTC is expecting the fifth generation of mobile networks to massively benefit consumer-oriented virtual reality technologies, as well as other VR applications, its Chief Executive Officer Cher Wang said last week in Barcelona, Spain. The “transformational” solutions promised by 5G should hence help HTC as a whole, with Ms. Wang seeing the company’s Vive unit as “the great equalizer” that can help it bounce back from its recent issues and revitalize all of its businesses, smartphones included.
In the immediate future, the HTC CEO still expects the most popular VR solutions to remain reliant on smartphones, i.e. handset-based VR headsets such as the Gear VR and Daydream View. Coupled with 5G connectivity and its extremely low latencies enabled by edge computing, on-demand VR experiences could become achievable much sooner than most consumers are expecting them, the industry veteran suggested. That technological shift should tie into the new “Vive Reality” strategy HTC is currently pursuing, though the details of the company’s 5G VR plan remain unclear. The Taipei-based original equipment manufacturer is presently going through a major restructuring that’s leading it to consolidate its mobile and VR divisions across all of the world’s regions in which it’s officially present. The move itself was prompted by the resignation of HTC’s mobile head Chailin Chang who left the company last month to pursue other career goals.
Ms. Wang’s latest comments on the matter suggest HTC won’t be exiting the smartphone market even though the company has recently been downsizing its mobile business and is planning to release fewer handset models in 2018 than it did in previous years. A significant portion of its talent also switched to Google earlier this winter as part of a $1.1 billion deal that also allowed the Alphabet-owned company to leverage HTC’s patent portfolio. The Taiwanese firm is now committing the majority of its resources to the VR market whose advancements it’s trying to pioneer, thus mimicking the strategy that originally allowed its smartphone business to bloom – striving to become of the first adopters of cutting-edge technologies that have the potential to go mainstream. HTC is expected to announce several new Android smartphones by mid-2018, including the U12 flagship.