HTC is a company that isn’t afraid to leap into new spaces. It built the first Android phone, and it just released the first SteamVR headset. Now the company is investing even deeper into virtual reality.
Vive X is a new $100 million fund for VR startups from HTC (via The Verge). The company will lead this effort with unnamed partners to help new companies in this burgeoning space bring their products to the market. Additionally, Vive X will help connect startups with mentors and investors. For HTC, this should help it build out software support for the Vive headset for years to come, which is crucial considering analysts at SuperData Research expects VR to generate $40 billion in revenue by 2020.
This kind of support could encourage more startups to enter the space. VR is so new that the industry is still figuring out best practices. Additionally, the market for high-end VR on PC is still relatively small. While it may grow into a lucrative space by 2020, no one is expecting it to bring in much cash in 2016. In fact, SuperData has twice dropped its predictions for VR revenues this year.
The Vive launched earlier this month for $800. It has repeatedly blown GamesBeat away, and we think that it has a lot of potential despite its prohibitive price. By lining up $100 million, HTC clearly agrees that its VR product could represent its future. With its smartphone business falling behind competitors like LG and Sony — not to mention Apple and Samsung — the Taiwanese hardware firm could use Vive as a way of taking an early lead in VR instead.
Vive X is one of the ways that HTC could make itself even more integral to VR. The program will award between $50,000 and $200,000 along with some temporary office space in exchange for equity in the participating companies. If one of these startups devises the next big killer app for VR, HTC can ensure that content ends up on Vive — or it could even potentially acquire important companies that go through the accelerator.