Despite the growing hype around virtual reality headsets, the consumer demand for VR and AR remains to be seen. However, TechRepublic has been consistently reporting on how the enterprise continues to express interest and invest resources in this technology for a variety of potential business uses.
One company that is taking a big step into the enterprise VR space is HTC, which recently released the HTC Vive Business Edition (BE)—a version of its Vive VR system with an bulk purchasing, commercial licensing, and dedicated phone support.
SEE: HTC Vive: A smart person's guide (TechRepublic)
Daniel O'Brien, vice president of VR at HTC, said that the Vive BE is HTC's answer to "the overwhelming demand from global industries for a complete VR experience, to provide innovative solutions for their business needs."
The Vive BE costs $1200, as opposed to the consumer edition's $800 price tag, so the real question will be if the additional features are worth it.
First, let's take a look at how the two editions of the Vive stack up. According to the Vive website, the Vive BE includes the following:
- Dedicated Business Edition customer support line
- 12-month limited warranty (certain exclusions and limitations apply)
- 4 face cushions (2x narrow and 2x wide)
- 2 wireless controllers
- 2 base stations
- Link box
- Cables, chargers and accessories
In terms of hardware pieces, the only real additions—two extra face cushions—are negligible. The real difference is in the aforementioned warranty and support, as well as the option for bulk purchasing.
Bulk purchasing is key because the consumer version is typically limited to one device per consumer, meaning if you want to buy multiple units for a wider deployment, you have to purchase the BE version. Both the Vive and Vive BE come with 12-month warranties.
Additionally, the licensing is important to note as well, because HTC does not allow its consumer version of Vive to be used in commercial applications without consequences. According to the FAQ section on the Vive's website: "If you use the consumer version (noncommercial) for commercial use, your warranty is null and void."
In short, it doesn't matter if you feel that the additional $400 is worth it because, if you want to use the Vive for commercial use at all, you have to purchase the Vive BE.
SEE: Augmented and virtual reality: An IT leader's introduction (TechRepublic)
Still, despite the cost, the HTC Vive BE is one of the first, enterprise-focused VR systems at its price point, which gives it a huge advantage in the market. Forrester vice president and principal analyst, J.P. Gownder, said the release is a smart move for the company.
"Adding a multiple-device purchasing option and a dedicated customer support line will appeal to enterprises, for whom the extra $400 represents a relatively minimal extra cost. It differentiates HTC Vive in yet another way from Oculus Rift, which doesn't offer business-specific features. In sum, it's a brilliant move," Gownder said.
The HTC Vive BE will launch in the US, Canada, UK, Germany, and France in June, and will be available globally sometime in the next few weeks.
SEE: 9 industries using virtual reality (TechRepublic)
The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers
- HTC recently released the Vive BE, an enterprise-focused version of its Vive VR system with additional support, licensing, and bulk purchasing options, which could make it easier to deploy VR for business purposes.
- The Vive BE is the only option for businesses that want to use the Vive, as the consumer edition does not allow for it to be used in commercial applications without voiding the warranty.
- The release of the Vive BE is one of the first VR systems at its price point geared toward business users, and it's a smart move for the company to target that audience early.
- Hands on with the new HTC Vive Pre: Hardware improvements could keep you in VR longer (TechRepublic)
- VR and AR: The Business Reality (ZDNet)
- Mini-glossary: Virtual reality terms you should know (TechRepublic)
- Thanks to virtual reality, could backpack PCs become a trend? (ZDNet)
- The state of virtual reality content: What the industry is doing to create compelling experiences (TechRepublic)
Conner Forrest has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.