VR has too much to prove

Lucas Matney on TechCrunch:

At a company event today in San Francisco, Samsung President & Chief Strategy Officer Young Sohn detailed that the company is actively pursuing both smartphone-focused VR headsets and standalone solutions. The decision to market and ship a dedicated all-in-one device would rely largely on where the VR market goes in the upcoming months and years, he says, and whether the clunky headsets can gain wider adoption.

That seems a smart decision. VR was going to change the world and at the moment both Oculus and HTC have not convinced much people of the revolution that this technology was bringing us.

I see Sony and its PlayStation VR as a much more compelling offer for most users. They’ll have to spend some serious money besides the PS4/Pro itself (the PlayStation VR bundle costs $500 and comes with the headset, PlayStation Camera and two PlayStation Move controllers), but the offer is quite good for a solution that is not that far from what Oculus and HTC give -and I’ve tested all of them-.

Virtual Reality got us excited, but it hasn’t brought that revolution it promised… yet. We’ll see if future titles really show us what this tech is capable of, but as of now, it’s too expensive to exit its niche market.

What if HTC and Xiaomi merged?

HTC’s revenue has dropped 55% year-on-year accoding to its latest financial results. The company situation is worrisome, and its smartphone business has been unable to reverse that fact. Every single model released in the last few years hasn’t had the warm welcome other HTC devices had in the previous years.

But HTC is far from dead. The HTC Vive seems to prove that, and it’s clear that virtual reality –and wearables– is now a possible last resort now that their phones are fighting with irrelevance and, above all, with the ones from Apple, Xiaomi, Lenovo and Huawei.

Xiaomi is doing quite well, though: it’s soaring in wearables and the recent launch of Xiaomi Mi 5 marks an interesting milestone that will allow them to compete in the high end (with almost mainstream prices).

HTC’s smartphone business isn’t working, and Xiaomi smartphone business is limited by its international expansion, something that HTC could provide.

What would happen if these two companies merged? Current HTC market cap is $81.94B, while Xiaomi has a market valuation of $45B. One could benefit from the other: HTC would be able to take advantage of Xiaomi’s strengths and ditch its own smartphones (or combine them with the best from its partner), while Xiaomi would be able to expand globally faster.

Is this nonsense?

HTC One A9: judging a book by its cover

HTC released yesterday the new HTC One A9, a smartphone that look really good from the outside and that also gets really interesting features on the inside. There are doubts about its battery life, but what matters here is the promise of Android updates 15 days after the official Nexus line updates. They’ll have to prove that, because not everybody believes they’ll be able to get that.

Perfect fit, as Vlad Savov said.
Perfect fit, as Vlad Savov said.

The 3GB RAM / 32 GB storage will be $399 for a limited time, and if the camera delivers -audio seems to be fantastic- this is a good deal, although the Nexus 5X is even more competitive and the camera, according to the reviews, is really good.

The design is really aggressive. It’s so similar to the new iPhones that I wonder if Apple will sue them or not, but they really would have a winner here. But I guess HTC wanted to make a safe bet here: many people do judge a book by its cover, and on the looks area, the One A9 is good. As good as the iPhone 6s.

The smartphone price wars are not victimless

Vlad Savov on The Verge writes:

Say that you do buy the rock-bottom-priced, Shenzhen-produced Android phone with the lofty specs from a random brand. It has a replaceable battery, but where will you get one when you decide you want a spare? It runs the latest Android today, but who will ensure it does so tomorrow? And who will bear responsibility for any overheating issues or display flaws?

These aren’t problems only related to local Chinese makers. Android updates are a big problem for big brands too, but Savov makes a good point. We should pay for certain features.

There has to be an intermediate point between the absurd margins of Apple iPhones and the equally absurd war we’re seeing on the entry level. Are we seeing the beginning of a disposable smartphone market? Uhm.

Source: The smartphone price wars are not victimless