On the 14th of October 2021, HTC Vive announced a new untethered VR headset named Vive Flow aimed at consumers. The new HTC Vive Flow will be priced at $499. The device will be positioned on design, its lightweight, and lifestyle features such as meditation.
Before we go into the how, here are the specifications of the HTC Vive Flow:
This is the third official headset launch for HTC in 2021. With the updated HTC line consisting of the HTC Vive Pro 2, Vive Focus 3 and now the Vive Flow.
This new headset is aimed to target the consumer market, specifically the early majority consumer market. This is a group that uses these kinds of untethered headsets for entertainment consumption and lifestyle purposes, not enterprise use cases.
Along with not being enterprise focussed the device is also not looking to compete with the most popular consumer VR headset the Oculus Quest. It is instead providing a different solution.
The higher price point of $499 compared to the Oculus Quest 2 at $300 seems like a bad deal. The alternative is both more powerful and with more features but has a distinct gamer-audience focus. The undercutting of prices is Facebook’s market penetration strategy using their data and advertising cash flows to subsidize the headset: commonly seen within big MNEs.
And so, HTC, being aware of this, targets a new kind of consumer segment: the lifestyle/immersive consumption group.
With the headset targeting the early majority consumer, focusing on portability and design, the Flow enters into the segment of ‘lifestyle wearables’.
It will be challenging for HTC to compete with the growing selection of untethered VR/AR media devices introduced into the market. Namely the industry-leading players such as Facebook’s new Ray-Bans or Huawei VR, with the Nreal Air also about to be released, along with both Pico VR glasses and Panasonic teasing a headset of similar value proposition at this year’s CES. But establishing a presence now within this potentially lucrative market is pivotal to gain a loyal customer base.
So, the Vive Flow has a few tricks up its sleeve.
For one, a focus on aesthetics is one of its differentiators: they are lightweight and can fold up to be taken on the go when commuting or otherwise; neatly packaged inside of a canister, resembling that of a coffee thermos bottle.
Secondly, the device has also been built with comfort in mind. The foldable frames are able to be enlarged to fit most head shapes. The face cushion is made of a soft fabric and the headset has built in active cooling to keep the device cool for extended periods of use. The headset can be worn without prescription eyewear. Because of the built in lens adjustment dial on the inside of the headset.
Thirdly, in the marketing material for this new Flow headset, a central focus is on meditation, mindfulness, and ASMR. Just notice this adverb tagline, “HTC VIVE Flow is intended to help people nurture their minds, relax and have fun on a daily basis, and go with the flow”.
The point is that lifestyle-oriented VR and meditation is a considerable market and connecting the immersive properties of VR with meditation seems like an interesting strategic choice. Especially after these uncertain times riddled with lockdowns and added stress. With the Vive Flow, you can now relieve the stress from your virtual meeting with a meditative virtual world after going home to watch Netflix on a virtual screen. And suddenly, you have an intriguing offering that is one of the more exciting new product launches this year.