HTC chair reportedly to open new VR company


TAIPEI — Cher Wang, chairwoman of Taiwan-based smartphone vendor HTC Corp. will set up a new company to focus on the world’s emerging virtual reality (VR) market, the Commercial Times reported Monday.

In the wake of the plan to open a VR entity, shares of HTC rose sharply on the Taiwan Stock Exchange in the morning session Monday as investors have embraced high hopes that the VR business will help HTC offset the impact resulting from escalating competition in the global smartphone market, dealers said.

The report cited unnamed sources in the industry as saying that Wang is planning to spin off HTC’s VR operations into an independent entity, and in an initial stage, the new company will be wholly owned by Wang and HTC.

The report said that before Peter Chou stepped down as HTC’s chief executive officer in March 2015, HTC had started discussions on a spin-off of its VR operations, but the discussions were suspended for some reason.

HTC has now resumed efforts in opening a new VR company and is consulting with its employees on their willingness to work for the independent firm. HTC was not immediately available for comment on its plans for the VR firm.

HTC unveiled its first RV headset — the HTC Vive — at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) show in March 2015. HTC has announced that pre-order sales for the HTC Vive will kick off Feb. 29 before the new device is scheduled to hit store shelves in April.

The HTC Vive was jointly developed by HTC and U.S. video game supplier Valve. The headset is equipped with tracked controllers that allow wearers to inspect objects from every angle and interact with their surroundings.

HTC has invested more than NT$300 million in WEVR, a VR content developer in the United States, to strengthen its VR development.

In December, Wang said that HTC has been exploring the possibility of expanding the VR headset’s applications to a wide range of areas, such as medical care, education, exhibitions, property development, industrial design, tourism and e-commerce. Wang said VR technology will become a trend in the high-tech industry over the next 10 years.

Market analysts said that if the report of the creation of a VR company by HTC turns out to be true, the plan would show the smartphone vendor’s ambitions to concentrate its efforts on the new business and would give the smartphone supplier a chance to take the lead over its peers in the VR arena.

HTC remained tight-lipped on the pricing of the HTC Vive, while the market has anticipated the new device could carry a price tag of US$1,500, more expensive than similar gadgets launched by its competitors.