Newsfeed - London, September 25, 2017
While the pundits have been debating who’s the king of the castle in VR wars - and Apple sets out its stall in the AR market with its ARKit for iPhone developers, one veteran company has been quietly taking the lead and resolutely keeping it with little public fanfare. That company is Sony, the innovative giant of the second half of the 20th century that was once seen as cutting edge, but is now very much part of the establishment.
Sony’s VR headset has been outselling the Vive and the Rift, at a lower yet still profitable price, but HTC is making a loss on the Vive and Facebook not doing much better with the Rift.
Yet Sony is strangely uncomfortable with its market leader position. In an interview with Reuters, Andrew House, the chief executive at Sony’s Interactive Entertainment Inc subsidiary, said:
“I‘m not entirely comfortable being the market leader in VR by such a margin that seems to be happening right now,”
He went on to explain that his concern was not that Sony was the market leader per se, but that the extent of that lead and the fact that their main competitors were struggling, did not bode well for the state of that sector of the industry. He felt that it would be better for the industry as a whole - including Sony - if the industry as a whole were in a healthier state.
Given that Sony is not just a maker of hardware, but also major content provider, House’s attitude is certainly understandable.
The CEO added that “With such a brand new category you want a variety of platforms all doing well to create that rising tide and create the audience.”
Technically, Samsung is ahead of Sony in VR market share as a whole - or at least was in the second quarter of 2017. However, in the VR headset market, Sony - with sales of half a million units in the April to June quarter - had a clear lead over HTC and Facebook (owners of the Oculus Rift). The fact that their VR headset is more affordable than the competition, and is tightly-integrated with the PS4 platform, is key to Sony’s market lead.