One day before Meta Connect HTC appears to be teasing a consumer Vive standalone headset.
Last week HTC teased a new “small” headset on Twitter, sharing a dark image of the corner of what is presumably the visor. We speculated on what this headset might be, but a new Tweet from HTC today – just one day before Meta Connect – seems to heavily hint at the answer:
— HTC VIVE (@htcvive) October 10, 2022
The company shared a Kotaku article reviewing Vive Focus 3 in a Zero Latency VR arcade with the comment “Food for thought… 🤔” The article is titled “The HTC Vive Focus 3 Is An Amazing VR Headset It Doesn’t Actually Want You To Buy” – referring to the fact that Vive Focus headsets are sold to businesses, not consumers.
Combined with the earlier tease of a new “small” headset, HTC isn’t exactly being subtle about what it’s preparing to announce. But HTC has almost entirely withdrawn from the consumer market in recent years, so this would be a significant strategy shift.
Launching a consumer standalone headset would mean taking on both Meta’s Quest 2 and ByteDance’s Pico 4. Quest 2 has widespread marketing and a large content library bolstered by exclusives like Beat Saber & Resident Evil 4. And Pico 4, while currently not sold in the US, pairs a compact design with impressive specs at an aggressive (likely subsidized) price.
Rather than direct like-for-like competition though, HTC could take a different or more niche approach. In the consumer PC VR market the company offers a Game Pass-like subscription service called Viveport Infinity. It’s possible HTC could launch Infinity for a standalone headset, and perhaps even offer the hardware itself in a subscription, as Microsoft does with Xbox Series X|S.
But that’s just speculation for now. All HTC has confirmed so far is it will announce a new headset, and it will be “small”.