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HTC Vive

HTC made a name for itself as a pioneer in the Android space. Tucked away in my basement, I still own an HTC Dream, otherwise known as the T-Mobile G1, and again otherwise known as the first commercially available Android handset. Unfortunately for HTC, the landscape is different now, with Samsung and Apple reaping most of the rewards, so it’s switching its focus to the emerging virtual reality sector.

In an interview with The Telegraph, HTC boss Cher Wang offers candid answers to uncomfortable questions, like what went wrong in the mobile handset space.

“Our flagship is in direct competition with several others, we have had some problems with it for two years,” Wang explains. “I think the problem was competition — Apple, Xiaomi, these companies spend tons of money on communications and marketing, they pump a huge amount of investment into the market.”

Wang also points out that there are a lot of competitors in China, the assumption there that HTC is being squeezed both in the high-end market and in the entry-level handset category.

Will HTC just abandon smartphones? Probably not, though it’s more willing to look at different categories. One of those is virtual reality, a category that HTC now deems as “more important” to its business model than smartphones.

HTC’s big play in VR is its upcoming Vive headset. Wang says pre-orders for the Vive will begin on February 29. She didn’t offer a precise release date, but barring any changes in plan, it will hit the market in April as scheduled.

That’s one month after the first Oculus Rift headsets arrive. Oculus recently put its Rift up for pre-order at $599, which includes some extras like a remote, free games, Xbox 360 controllers, and some other goodies.

There’s a lot of interest in both headsets and the VR category as a whole. That much at least bodes well for HTC.

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