Can we stop pretending HTC has a future in VR?

The Vive with proper branding. (credit: HTC / Ron Amadeo)

HTC has recently announced it is spinning off its VR division into a wholly owned subsidiary called "HTC Vive Tech." The move seems to suggest that VR headsets are now a pillar of HTC and that the company will be a player in the VR market for years to come. While the HTC Vive is a compelling device, and the best VR headset out there, the driving force behind the Vive is co-creator Valve. I think HTC is taking way too much credit for the Vive's creation.

HTC is struggling mightily in the smartphone market and is still good for a 40-percent year-over-year decline in revenue every month. The Vive—a "joint effort" between HTC and Valve—is a rare bright spot in the company's lineup, but I think it's a temporary reprieve. Evidence shows HTC had little to do with the technology behind the Vive. HTC is more like Valve's tool, and while the company is in charge of manufacturing the Vive right now, HTC won't be left with any IP or competitive advantages once Valve is done with it.

"HTC Vive" makes about as much sense as "Foxconn iPhone." The name "Valve Vive" would probably be more appropriate. HTC seems more like the contract manufacturer for the device, building the Vive for Valve the same way Foxconn builds iPhones for Apple. The Vive is a product of Valve research using licensed Valve technology and Valve software in an effort to kickstart Valve's VR ecosystem. The only oddity is that, through a weird quirk of branding, HTC's name ended up on the side of the device.

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