Daily Management Review

HTC bets on virtual reality


HTC, which is experiencing serious problems in the smart phone market, intends to continue investing in new advanced technologies, such as virtual (VR) and augmented reality (AR), artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of things and fifth generation networks (5G).

Kārlis Dambrāns via flickr
Kārlis Dambrāns via flickr
According to top management of HTC, the company is also interested in implementation of the blockchain, and is ready to launch its first smart phone based on this technology. The device is code-named Exodus, and is told to support "many blockchain protocols", such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Lightning Network and Dfinity.

The Android-based device will have a pre-installed universal crypto-currency wallet, as well as a "protected hardware enclave" that provides data security.

HTC co-founder and chairman of the corporations Cher Wang also noted that the HTC concept is called Vive Reality and consists in close integration of various technologies, including VR, AR, AI and 5G, so that users can interact with virtual environments.

HTC is trying to follow the VR trends with regard to stand-alone devices. At the end of last year, the company launched the Vive Focus helmet, which does not require connection to an external source. Digitimes Research company reports that wireless stand-alone VR gadgets are becoming more developed and do not require connection to high-performance computers. Thus, this equipment will be getting cheaper thanks to new virtual and mixed reality devices models. Most likely, the demand for them will be low.

For HTC, the VR market is attractive not only because of the growing number of gamer users, but also because of the demand from corporate users. The performance of virtual and augmented reality solutions is going up, which, for example, allows architects to work with voluminous interactive models of drawings in the design of buildings. Engineers can use it to create a 3D prototype engine, and physicians – for working with models of human organs during operations. Researchers note that the development of the market VR and AR will benefit the areas of production and design, health, transport and retail.

It is forecasted that in 2021 the world shipments of AR and VR devices for commercial purposes will amount to 38.3 million units. Researchers expect that in 2017, the aggregate volume of the world market of augmented and virtual reality will reach $ 13.9 billion, an increase of 130.5% compared to a year ago.

As for smart phones, then, in Wang's opinion, they are likely to change externally, but will continue to play an important role in the new ecosystem. Mobile devices are needed because high-speed data transmission and border computing along with 5G networks will contribute to the creation of large amounts of content in real time, she added.

"Smartphones can become completely different from these points of view that we know and love, I think that they will take other forms, because 5G will reduce the need for high performance of a particular device," Wang said.

The financial situation of the Taiwanese company is not the best. Recently, HTC reported a record quarterly loss and a nearly 30% decline in revenue. In the final quarter of 2017, HTC's net loss after tax reached 9.81 billion Taiwan dollars ($ 336.8 million), which was the largest loss for a three-month period in the company's history. HTC also recorded an operating loss of 9.6 billion Taiwan dollars ($ 329.5 million) and a negative operating margin of -60.8%. The consolidated revenue of HTC in December-October 2017 decreased by 30.8% to 15.7 billion Taiwan dollars (about $ 540 million).

Among the reasons for the losses are strengthening of market competition, unsuccessful product range, tendency to reduce prices for smart phones and write-offs due to asset depreciation. Experts note that the current loss is the eleventh in a row for the company. In recent years, HTC has significantly reduced its business, shifting attention to the VR devices. In January 2018, HTC closed a $ 1.1 billion-worth deal with Google, within which a team of 2,000 employees engaged in developing Pixel smart phones, was transferred to the American corporation.

The net loss of HTC in the end of 2017 reached 16.9 billion Taiwan dollars ($ 580 million), or 20.58 Taiwan dollars per share. The amount of losses is twice larger than the capital of the company in the amount of 8.2 billion Taiwan dollars ($ 281.6 million), said HTC in a document provided to the Taiwan Stock Exchange.

source: digitimes.com