(Update: HTC denies spin-off) HTC to reportedly create an independent VR company

by: Rob TriggsJanuary 19, 2016
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Update: 01/19/2015

Following reports from Taiwan that HTC is preparing to spin off its virtual reality business into a standalone company, HTC has issued a statement dismissing the claims. The reports had suggested that HTC’s Cher Wang would head up and at least part own a new company that would take over HTC’s work on virtual reality, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.

Recent media reports in Taiwan, such as by United Evening News, stating that Cher Wang is planning to spin off HTC’s VR operations into an independent entity that will be wholly owned by Wang is incorrect. HTC will continue to develop our VR business to further maximize value for shareholders. – HTC

This doesn’t completely rule out HTC doing something with its VR division at some point down the line, but it certainly shuts down the idea that Cher Wang will be heading things up. Originally, the idea to spin off the division had apparently been raised by Peter Chou, before he stepped down, but was abandoned. Based on this comment, it doesn’t look like the idea will be resurfacing any time soon.

We’ll have to see how HTC’s efforts in the VR space fair when its Vive headset begins heading out to consumers in April this year.

Virtual reality is expected to make its big breakthrough this year as hardware finally heads out to consumers. Reports from Taiwan are suggesting that HTC will look to further capitalize on its hardware efforts in this market by opening up a dedicated independent company to work on VR.

HTC has been working in conjunction with US video game developer and retailer Valve on the Vive headset. The company announced that its HTC Vive will be available for pre-order on February 29th and the latest reports suggest that the hardware will come in at the premium end with a price tag that could reach $1,500.

According to the report, HTC’s Char Wang will spin off the company’s VR efforts into an independent entity, which will initially remain under HTC’s ownership. Apparently, the company is currently in talks with its employees about their willingness to work for an independent firm. HTC has also already invested more than NT$300 million in WEVR, a VR content developer in the United States, and clearly views the technology as a long term investment. HTC has not commented on the rumor.

HTC-Vive-3Read more: We tested the HTC Vive Pre – here are our reactions1

The HTC Vive is only of only three major VR platforms in development for release this year, along with the Oculus Rift and Sony’s headset for its PlayStation 4 console. Given HTC’s recent poor performance in the smartphone market, building a strong presence at the early stage in the growing VR market could give the company a much needed boost. This latest report saw HTC’s share price rise sharply by 5.3 percent during early trading on Monday morning.

In similar news, Google recently announced the creation of its own dedicated virtual reality division. Clearly expectations are high for new hardware and the emerging VR market.