HTC’s standalone Vive Focus VR headset will ship globally in 2018

HTC today announced that it will start shipping its standalone Vive Focus VR headset globally sometime later this year, finally opening it up to markets outside of China where it debuted last November. In preparation for the global launch, registered developers in "most countries" now have access to HTC's Vive Focus developer kits.

The Vive Focus is a different animal than the regular Vive (or upcoming Vive Pro) or setups like Samsung's Gear VR. Rather than connecting to a PC or running off a smartphone to drive VR experiences, it's a self-contained solution powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 processor built into the headset. Or at least the current version is—according to CNET, HTC has already made the switch to Qualcomm's newer (and burlier) Snapdragon 845 processor for its developer kit VR headset.

It also features built-in 6 DoF (six degrees of freedom) tracking that enables the headset to keep track of movements without any external sensors, and a high-resolution 2880x1600 screen with a 110-degree field of view.

With the Vive Focus, HTC is attempting to bring VR to a wider audience, and in particular the mainstream market. Whether it can accomplish that will depend in part on price—HTC hasn't said how much the Vive Focus will cost when it launches globally later this year, though in China it's a $600 headset.

Viveport president Rikard Steiber told Forbes that the response in China has been positive, with customers "having a great user experience and responding as we hoped to the simplicity of the device." He didn't offer up any sales figures, but did say the assessment is based "not so much on numbers, but on engagement and sentiment." Take from that what you will.

Content is obviously key as well, and Steiber points out that there are "still only 50 titles available" for the Vive Focus. HTC hopes to light a fire under developers' backsides by offering a 100 percent revenue share "from title sales and Viveport subscription in China between April and September 2018," which includes content for either the Vive Focus or the PC-based Vive.