After Vive's surprise announcement that it was creating a standalone VR headset for Google's Daydream platform on Wednesday, SuperData's vice president of research and strategy and head of VR/AR Stephanie Llamas has told MCV the device could be a real "game changer" in the fledging VR market and that the "dream team" pairing of Google and HTC could give Samsung and Oculus a run for their money.
"Mobile has been the driver for adoption so far, but those headsets are only compatible with a handful of phones," said Llamas.
"Google has been fairly quiet so far following the release of the Daydream compared to Samsung's Gear VR campaign. We always believed it was because they had something else up their sleeve. Given the success and quality of the HTC Vive, not only will this dream team present steep competition for Oculus and Samsung (especially in light of the latter's recent legal troubles), but it will completely remove the friction of supporting hardware."
Of course, pricing will be key here, as the standalone headset still needs to be cheap enough to appeal to consumers who don't want the rigamole of PC-powered (or indeed PlayStation-powered) VR, but Llamas added that the headset "certainly has the potential" to be a key driver for VR growth.
The news of the headset hasn't caused SuperData to revise its initial year estimates for Google Daydream sales, however, and the research firm said it will be treating it as a separate device in its projections. "We do not yet have standalone device figures available," Llamas told us.
As for how the device will impact Vive proper, however, Llamas said it should be minimal given their different platform support:
"Vive's standalone headset and its high-end offering have completely different capabilities and address different audiences. Vive users who want a mobile experience may buy both because the standalone Daydream is going to be far lower in price than what they spend on the PC headset. So it's just an add-on essentially. However, Vive is providing the hardware but the experience will be Google's. So if consumers want a Vive experience, they won't get it from this. And if consumers are getting their feet wet, they likely won't buy a PC Vive rig."