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HTC to offer unlimited access to VR content at flat rate

2019/03/16 18:53:24

Taipei, March 16 (CNA) Taiwan-based smartphone brand HTC Corp., which intensified its efforts to penetrate the global VR market by launching its first VR headset -- the Vive -- in 2015, will provide unlimited access to VR content starting from April in an attempt to boost its revenue in the VR business.

From April 2, consumers will be able to take advantage of the Viveport Infinity program to enjoy unlimited access to VR content subscription services. Under the program, subscribers will have to pay US$12.99 per month, or US$99 per year, to get unlimited access to Viveport services.

Viveport is a Vive app store that provides users with a wider range of content for the VR headset.

According to HTC, popular games, including Angry Birds VR: Isle of Pigs, have timed their launch for subscription to coincide with their global release, which is expected to allow consumers choices and affordability when it comes to trialing new content in Viveport's subscription service.

HTC said new Viveport subscribers can sign up for a free 2-week membership for unlimited gaming access under the Viveport Infinity program.

Since August 2018, Viveport has started to support a VR headset developed by its rival, Oculus VR, so the Viveport Infinity program will be available to both Vive and Oculus Rift owners, HTC said.

Oculus VR is a division of the social media giant Facebook, one of the global tech companies that has invested in the VR business.

In addition, for compatible titles, Viveport Infinity will also travel with subscribers to any standalone headset built on the Vive Wave platform, which offers an open interface enabling interoperability between numerous mobile VR headsets and accessories, supporting mainstream game engines, HTC said.

"We have built a new model for VR that shines a light on the great library of VR content this industry has developed and gives users a reason to spend more time in headsets than ever before," said Rikard Steiber, president of HTC's Viveport.

"At the same time, we're increasing developer reach and potential revenue as more developers can monetize a single Infinity user. We believe this model matches how consumers want to experience VR," Steiber said.

HTC said that to further support Viveport Infinity developers, Viveport has moved to increase the developer's share of revenue earned to 80/20, up from 70/30, during the period April 1-Dec. 31, 2019.

While HTC unveiled the first VR headset -- the Vive-- in 2015 and follow-up models such as the Vive Focus, the sales generated from the operations remain a small fraction of the company, which has failed to boost its revenue significantly, market analysts said.

HTC turned a profit in 2018 simply because it disposed of its smartphone ODM assets to Google in the first quarter of that year to strengthen its bottom line, stopping a three-year losing streak.

Last year, HTC registered NT$12 billion (US$388 million) in net profit, or NT$14.72 per share in 2018, compared with a net loss of NT$16.91 billion, or NT$20.58 in loss per share, in 2017, while its consolidated sales fell to NT$23.74 billion, down 61.78 percent from the previous year, the seventh consecutive year of decline amid escalating competition in the global smartphone market.

After NT$25.70 in earnings per share seen in the first quarter, HTC incurred NT$2.51, NT$3.16 and NT$5.31 in loss per share in the second, third and fourth quarters, respectively.

(By Jiang Ming-yan and Frances Huang)
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