After the launch of Daydream, PSVR and announcement of Windows10-based VR headsets in October, we didn’t expect more excitement for VR until 2017, but in the last few weeks, we are surprised about the developments from China. On both the hardware and content side, we can see great efforts Chinese VR companies put into bringing VR to the next level.
HTC builds its own VR ecosystem
HTC has taken a lot of actions recently to strengthen its place in the VR industry. Started by the launch of content distribution platform Viveport and accelerator program Vive X earlier this year, HTC ventures further to announce a mobile distribution platform Viveport M and its own location-based VR chain store Vive Arcade.
With the opening of HTC’s first VR Cafe in Shenzhen and a VR theme park in Taipei on the horizon, HTC has built the full chain from investment to end-user distribution. HTC also formed a partnership with Conde Nast China and Intercontinental Hotel Group to branch out their services and applications. The new addition to its ecosystem is TPCast, a wireless data transmission device that can turn HTC Vive into a mobile headset, and the company behind it, Chuansong Technology is backed by Vive X. Most recently, HTC and the Shenzhen municipal government signed a strategic cooperation agreement with 10 billion Chinese Yuan, committed to driving the rapid development of the entire VR industry in China. It is interesting to see that HTC is building its empire and defensives so quickly, but it is still too early to see which of the models will work in the long run, and their relationship with Valve is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle.
VRCore sets new standards for VR contents in China by creating a VR award
The Proto Awards are an annual award show created by the Los Angeles-based Virtual Reality Foundation to honor individuals and teams making strides in the field of virtual reality. After three successful shows in Los Angeles, VRCore, one of the biggest VR developer communities in China, established the Chinese “Proto Award” for VR. The inaugural award ceremony was held on October 18th. 10 winners were awarded during the ceremony featuring 10 categories including Best Game, Best Narrative, Best Art Directions etc. The selection process started in early May this year from 327 entrees, with multiple rounds of selection judged by senior executives from Epic, Sony, Unity, and AMD.
The developer community in China continues to show strong signals of group, due partly to the friendly venture financing environment and the government's significant support. However, content development in China continues to be relatively weak comparing to hardware.
Xiaomi, Huawei and Alibaba lead push for domestic VR consumer adoption
Recently Alibaba announced its VR payment system VR Pay to support in-VR transactions through touch, gaze, and head movements, it is another step they take further to push VR-shopping.
On Alibaba’s annual shopping festival November 11, its VR shopping experience Buy+ went online briefly for the day. Considering the overall sales reached 120 billion Yuan within 24 hours, the VR component is minimal. Despite all the buzz, Alibaba created for VR-Commerce, it still generates a great amount of attention within consumer mass on how VR can be used in our daily life. On the end, Xiaomi and Huawei both launched their mobile based VR headsets. The hardware specs of the headsets are on-par with Gear or even surpass it, and the systems are Daydream ready. If Huawei and Xiaomi are at a better position to win new waves of mobile VR consumers, and 2017 will be the year to prove it.