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HTC partners with Mozilla to bring Firefox’s virtual reality web browser to the Vive headset

HTC partners with Mozilla to bring Firefox’s virtual reality web browser to the Vive headset


A competitor to Chrome for VR now has a platform

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Photo by James Bareham / The Verge

HTC and its software partner Valve have been steadily working on premium, desktop-grade virtual reality with the Vive for a few years now, while Oculus VR focuses on the mainstream consumer market and Sony targets PlayStation owners. Part of HTC’s push to capture that high-end VR market involves giving users more to do in VR besides just play some neat games, and today at CES, HTC said it’s partnering with Mozilla to make the Firefox Reality browser the default web browsing app for all Vive headsets.

The partnership is a win-win for both companies. Mozilla first announced Firefox Reality as a dedicated VR web browser in April. At the time, it mostly existed as a more open alternative to Oculus’ native browser for the Samsung Gear VR and Google’s experimental Daydream version of Chrome. Google has since officially launched a VR version of Chrome for its Daydream platform, while Microsoft has brought its Edge browser to its growing Mixed Reality platform.

Mozilla needed a platform for Firefox Reality, and HTC needed a VR-ready browser

Yet thanks to HTC, Mozilla now has a more viable platform to market Firefox Reality. And for HTC and Valve, partnering with Mozilla means they do not have to rely on a competitor’s web browser, while also getting to enjoy the benefits of Firefox’s privacy-first approach.

As part of the deal, HTC is also teaming up with Amazon to make use of the company’s AWS cloud infrastructure, specifically a tool known as Amazon Sumerian that’s designed for creating VR, augmented reality, and 3D-mapped spaces. The first third-party company to make use of these new resources is Fidelity, which says it built a custom 3D environment for monitoring financial accounts that’s accessible on the Vive through Firefox Reality. (As for who would ever check their stock portfolio in VR, that’s a different matter entirely.)