HTC is announcing a business-focused version of its Vive virtual reality headset. The Vive Business Edition will offer the same hardware as the consumer version, but come with a dedicated support line and the option to buy the systems in bulk. In return, customers will be spending quite a bit more: the system will sell for $1,200, compared to the ordinary $799 Vive.
Currently, the Vive's warranty doesn't cover anything that happens to a system while it's being used for "commercial purposes," saying it's meant for "personal entertainment" only. Consumers are also limited to buying one Vive each, since the systems have been heavily backordered until recently. But a number of companies are using Vive systems for things like architecture and 3D design, and more may start thanks to funding from HTC's new VR startup accelerator. HTC has already officially partnered with software company Dassault Systèmes to showcase its commercial products on the VR headset.
The help line is also a substantial benefit. The Vive systems are still very new and difficult to troubleshoot, and some non-commercial Vive buyers have complained about unresponsive customer support for things like faulty hardware.
While the Vive is competing with the Oculus Rift (and to an extent, the PlayStation VR system) for gaming and entertainment, HTC has shown more interest than either of them in selling its high-end headset to businesses, a sector that's been using virtual reality since long before the current VR boom. The Vive BE will launch in June for customers in the US, UK, Canada, Germany, and France, and it will appear globally in the coming weeks.