Can The New Sony PlayStation VR Maintain Its Dominance?

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Recent reports indicate that Sony Corp (ADR) (NYSE:SNE) is planning to launch a refreshed version its highly popular Virtual Reality headset, the PlayStation VR (PS VR). The new version will likely feature a number of improvements and is primed for launch as we quickly approach the one-year anniversary of the original PS VR headset.

So what improvements does the new version offer? Well, the new model, dubbed the CUH-ZVR2, will feature integrated headphones, and a slimmer, streamlined connection cable cables for superior mobility. Besides, it also has an updated processor unit with the ability to function as an HDR (High Dynamic Range) passthrough to output HDR content on TV.

These changes fix many of the complaints that users had about the original PS VR headset. The display itself will likely have identical specs as the last generation, with a 1920×1080 OLED display with a refresh rate ranging from 90 Hz – 120 Hz.

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We have previously extensively outlined how Virtual Reality is one of the next big frontiers in technology. Annual VR headset shipments are expected to top 67 million by 2021. The market is also expected to worth over $40 billion by 2020. There is immense potential in this market, and the industry recognizes that fact. In 2016 alone, investment in AR and VR exceeded the $2 billion mark!

The VR industry, however, has been suffering some growing pains. The technology is still in nascent stage in terms of mass adoption. In fact, the two most high-profile high-end VR headsets  – the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, both sold fairly poorly. The launch of the PS VR last year bucked this trend, and it became the first successful high-end VR experience. In the 8 month period from its launch in October 2016 to June of 2017, the PS VR sold over 1 million units!

It is clear that this is not a generational update by Sony, but merely an iterative one. It is highly unlikely to see a generational update to a console accessory so soon. If the development of the PS VR follows a typical console life-cycle, we might have to wait upwards of 5 years for the next generation of PlayStation VR headset. However, console lifecycles are now shortening due to the rapid advances in technology, as evidenced by the half-generation launches of the PS4 Pro and the Xbox One X.

This is especially applicable to VR, which is moving forward at a rapid pace. With increased competition from more and more players, including HTC, Oculus, Samsung and even Google, Sony cannot afford to wait too long on the sidelines.

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