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VR development starting to transform HTC: company chair

2018/06/26 18:08

Taipei, June 26 (CNA) Cher Wang (王雪紅), chairperson of Taiwan-based smartphone brand HTC Corp. said Tuesday that the company's efforts at developing virtual reality (VR) are starting to transform HTC.

Speaking at the company's annual general meeting, Wang said HTC has much content for VR use, as seen by its successful efforts to enter the VR market as the firm works to upgrade.

Wang's comments echoed HTC's annual report published earlier this month which indicated the company plans to invest more in new technologies as part of its efforts to seek out opportunities for long-term growth.

As of early 2018, HTC owned more than 3,000 VR-use content items developed by Viveport and Steam, helping it take the lead over its peers in the global VR market, according to Wang.

Viveport is a Vive app store that provides users with content for VR headsets, while Steam is a content platform under U.S. video game supplier Valve, which jointly developed the Vive with HTC.

HTC entered the VR business in 2015 when it introduced its first VR headset -- The Vive -- and launched global sales in April 2016, in an effort to diversify its product portfolio and increase sales to offset the adverse impact of escalating competition in the global smartphone market.

Wang said the Vive has taken the lead in the global market after its debut and moreover the Vive Focus, a standalone virtual reality headset unveiled in China in November 2017, has also been well received by the market.

Thanks to the foundation laid by these VR development efforts, Wang said HTC has expanded its reach into augmented reality, artificial intelligence, 5G, Internet of Things and Blockchain technology which is a platform for digital transaction records.

Through its efforts at developing these emerging technologies, Wang said, HTC aims to realize its vision of a "Vive Reality," which will allow users to interact with one another in VR and AR environments in a natural manner.

Although HTC has put much emphasis on new technology development, Wang said the company will also continue to introduce new smartphone models to the market as smartphone operations remain a strategic business for the firm.

In 2017, HTC unveiled the HTC U smartphone series. The next year, riding the wave of smartphone development efforts, the company launched its latest flagship U12+ model, which features an enhanced human-machine interface and improved camera functions.

The U12+ model received high marks from DxOMark, a tech website that provides image quality ratings for standalone cameras, lenses, and mobile devices equipped with cameras, Wang said.

In the first quarter of this year, HTC posted a net profit of NT$21.1 billion (US$694 million), compared with a net loss of NT$9.8 billion in the previous quarter, with earnings per share of NT$25.70.

However, the first quarter results, which ended an 11-quarter losing streak, were boosted by a deal in which the company disposed of its smartphone ODM assets to Google last year. Excluding one-time non-core business gains, the core business of HTC still incurred first quarter operating losses of NT$5.2 billion.

In 2017, HTC incurred a net loss of NT$16.91 billion and a loss per share of NT$20.58, the highest since it listed on the Taiwan Stock Exchange in March 2002.

Wang said she has faith that HTC will turn a profit in 2018 and hopes the company will issue cash dividends to shareholders, while several shareholders attending the meeting complained about the losses incurred last year.

Wang said the management will continue to work hard, adding "I hope the company wins your praise at the next annual general meeting."

Shares in HTC lost 1.06 percent to close at NT$56.00 on the local main board as global financial markets felt the escalating trade tensions between Washington and Beijing.

(By Jiang Ming-yan and Frances Huang)Enditem/AW