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HTC Inexplicably Cancels Standalone Daydream Headset

Updated11/14/2017, 8:15am PT: Added statement from HTC.

In May, at Google I/O 2017, Google and HTC announced a partnership via which HTC would build a standalone device for Google’s VR ecosystem that would be powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 VR SoC and feature a “world-scale” tracking solution developed by Google. HTC is still on track to release the first standalone “world-scale” headset with the Vive Focus, but don’t expect to see one outside of China any time soon.

Last night, Clay Bavor, Google’s VP of Virtual and Augmented Reality, confirmed via Twitter that HTC’s Daydream headset would not see the light of day. It’s unclear why HTC abandoned the Daydream partnership, especially when you consider that the company already finalized the headset design. The Vive Focus headset is basically the same headset that would have come to North America. Both devices feature the same internal hardware, and the teaser images HTC released of each device indicate that they would have shared roughly the same shape and design.

"Our focus has been on bringing some other devices, like the one we announced last night to markets like China. We still have a great relationship with Google, but will not be bringing a standalone device to western markets on Daydream," said Patrick Seybold, Vice President, Communications & Social Media. "We’re looking closely at our hardware roadmap, and will share when there is more to come for Western users next year."

Google doesn’t seem to be perturbed by HTC backing down from the Daydream partnership. Bavor said that Google and HTC “remain great partners.” HTC’s departure from the Daydream platform is a slight blow to Google’s standalone headset plans, though. The HTC headset was set to be the first of its kind, so the cancellation must have set Google's plans back somewhat. But HTC's headset wasn’t the only device in development: Lenovo is also building a standalone Daydream headset, and Bavor said he’s “been using and loving” his Lenovo Daydream HMD.  

We’re not sure when Lenovo plans to release its standalone Daydream headset, but Bavor said that he'd have more details to share soon.

Kevin Carbotte is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He writes news and reviews of graphics cards and virtual reality hardware.