Today at CES HTC revealed its latest headset, the Vive Cosmos. While the headset is in many ways an evolution from past learnings, the company says it isn’t designed to succeed the original Vive.
While the original HTC Vive launched way back in April of 2016, HTC says that it continues to see strong sales. Today the company unveiled its latest tethered headset, Vive Cosmos, but it isn’t designed to be a ‘Vive 2’.
With four headsets now in its stables—Vive, Vive Pro, Vive Focus, and Vive Cosmos—HTC is attempting to appeal to range of different users.
Speaking to HTC’s GM of Americas, Dan O’Brien, we learned that the Cosmos is primarily designed to draw new customers into VR, specifically those who haven’t pulled trigger on a headset purchase because of the complexity associated with many of today’s headsets.
O’Brien said that 85% of would-be VR purchasers are citing setup complexity as their roadblock to purchase. HTC is tackling that by putting an inside-out tracking system on Cosmos, which means user’s won’t need to set up any external beacons for tracking, and the headset is expected to connect to the host PC by a single cable. The company is also putting a heavy emphasis on comfort and minimal weight for Cosmos—presumably other areas they’ve identified as keeping customers from purchasing—and further introducing a new software experience called the Vive Reality System to tie everything together.
But the headset isn’t a replacement for the original Vive, O’Brien said. HTC plans to continue to the original Vive product line alongside Cosmos. Another HTC executive wouldn’t say ‘Vive 2’, but did say that the company has plans for a proper successor to the original Vive.
O’Brien broke down the positioning of the company’s four headsets. Vive Pro (and the new Vive Pro Eye) are really focused on enterprise. The original Vive is for enthusiasts who want the precision of SteamVR Tracking, and are looking for a high-end experience. Cosmos is being positioned more as a comfortable headset designed for ease-of-use and flexibility. Meanwhile, Focus represents the company’s standalone effort.
Put that way, HTC’s four headset strategy seems pretty tidy, but how consumers view the array of devices might not be so cut and dry, especially depending upon the price of Cosmos (which so far HTC isn’t talking about—not even saying if it will represent an ‘entry-level’ price point).
There’s still a lot of questions about the headset, including the fact that Cosmos could one day run from a smartphone, or perhaps lower-end PCs—something which HTC heavily teased but wasn’t ready to talk about. The company plans to begin sending out developer kits for Cosmos soon, with the eventual launch coming later this year, so we expect to hear much more in the coming months.