On Thursday, Sony Corp with also join the race for dominance in the Virtual Reality (VR) market with the launch of its headset called PlayStation VR. The Japanese electronics group has priced it at $399 and is hoping that the device will be successful in beating pricier rivals. It is also hoping that the headset will aid the company in reviving its reputation of being the maker of must-have unique gadgets. After going through years of restructuring, Sony is trying to reshape itself in order to focus on areas that are lucrative such as entertainment, video games and camera sensors instead of settling on smartphones and television, where competition is acute, demand is flat and margins are thin. The games unit of Sony Corp has become the single largest profit contributor for the company.
In June, Sony declared that its restructuring and turnaround was finished. The first major launch after that is the PlayStation VR headset and is aimed at putting the company back on the offensive. It is also a test of the firm’s ability to compete in one of the most-talked about areas of the industry. There are rival virtual reality headsets available in the market, which include $799 Vive from HTC Corp and Oculus Rift of Facebook Inc. priced at $599.
Sony is hoping that its modest price tag would be effective in luring customers and also wishes to tap into the existing user base of its flagship console, which is approximately 40 million. The headset does not require any equipment and can be plugged into the PlayStation 4 with ease. Analysts have said that Sony is well-positioned to get an early lead in the VR headset race. Sony, which is renowned for being the maker of the first compact disc player and the Walkman portable cassette player, is hoping the headset will act as a springboard and will enable it to move ahead of rivals in VR because it gels with the content portion of its business including film and music.
In September, Sony’s chief of the gaming division, Andrew House said that he was already talking with media production companies for exploring the possibilities that would be presented by Sony’s VR headset. House said that this would take years, but it was time to start having these conversations. However, Sony has entered a very crowded market. It has been predicted by analysts that cumulative shipments of all VR headsets will increase by 20 times and reach 40 million by 2020.
Last week, the chief executive of Facebook Inc., Mark Zuckerberg said that its Oculus business would be spending approximately $500 billion for funding the content development of VR. He also said that they were working on developing a more affordable and standalone VR, which wouldn’t be dependent on any console or personal computer. Other new entrants in the market include heavy names like Qualcomm Inc. and Intel Corp, which said they were also working on building standalone VR headsets. They plan to offer their technologies to developers for making headsets using their systems or chipset.