Sony PlayStation VR Hits Stores Shelves Thursday to Take on Oculus and HTC


Sony PlayStation VR Hits Stores Shelves Thursday to Take on Oculus and HTC


  • The games unit is now the single largest profit contributor for the group
  • Rival offerings in VR headsets include Oculus Rift and HTC Vive
  • Sony hopes to lure in customers with its more modest price tag

Sony Corp will join the race for virtual reality (VR) dominance on Thursday with the $399 PlayStation VR, a headset the Japanese electronics group hopes will beat pricier rivals and revive its reputation as a maker of must-have gadgets.

(Also see: PlayStation VR First Impressions)

Emerging from years of restructuring, Sony is reshaping itself to focus on lucrative areas such as video games, entertainment and camera sensors – rather than televisions or smartphones where demand is flat, competition acute and margins thin. The games unit is now the single largest profit contributor for the group.

The PlayStation VR headset, Sony’s first major product launch since it declared its turnaround complete in June, will put the company back on the offensive and test its ability to compete in one of the most talked-about spaces in the industry.

Rival offerings in virtual reality headsets include Facebook’s $599 Oculus Rift and HTC’s $799 Vive.

Sony hopes to lure in customers with its more modest price tag and by tapping the 40 million existing users of its flagship consoles – the headset is designed to plug into PlayStation 4, rather than requiring new equipment.

“Sony is well-positioned to build an early lead in the high-end VR headset race,” market researcher IHS Technology said in a report, forecasting sales of 1.4 million units in 2016.

Sony, developer of the Walkman portable cassette player and maker of the first compact disc player, hopes the headset will be a springboard to pull ahead of rivals in VR, gelling with the content portion of its business, specifically music and film.

In an interview with Reuters in September, Andrew House, Sony’s gaming division chief, said he was already in talks with media production companies to explore possibilities for Sony’s VR headset.

“We are talking about years into the future, but these are interesting conversations to start having now,” House said.

Sony, however, will compete in a crowded market. Nomura analysts expect cumulative shipments of all VR headsets to expand more than 20 times to 40 million by 2020, which along with accessories and other non-game content could be worth $10 billion.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, said last week the Oculus business will spend $500 million to fund VR content development and is working on an affordable standalone VR headset not tethered to personal computers or consoles.

Other new entrants include chipmakers Intel and Qualcomm, which said they are working on standalone headsets. They plan to make their technologies available to help developers make headsets using their chipsets or systems.

To counter those competitors, Sony may have to eventually open up its PlayStation console to make it compatible with other headsets, said Atsushi Osanai, a former Sony official who is now professor at Japan’s Waseda University Business School.

Sony’s largest gaming rival Microsoft Corp plans to release a new Xbox One console next year that is expected to support VR headsets of its partners including Oculus.

© Thomson Reuters 2016

Tags: Sony, PlayStation VR, PS VR, Virtual Reality, VR, Wearables, PlayStation 4, Gaming, Home Entertainment



World’s first self-driving taxi service hits Singapore streets

An autonomous vehicle software start-up in Singapore, nuTonomy, on Thursday announced the launch of its self-driving taxi service – the first of its kind in the world. The company beat ride-hailing service Uber, which aims to offer rides in autonomous cars in Pittsburgh, USA, in a few weeks, AP reported.

The start-up said select passengers can book the service for free through their smartphones. For years now, companies like Google and Volvo have been testing the concept of self-driving cars. The Singapore-based service will commence with six cars and plans to expand to around 12 vehicles by the end of 2016.

According to a report by The Guardian, the cars will have a safety driver seated at the wheel. Karl Iagnemma, CEO of nuTonomy said, “The pilot is going to allow us to collect technical data, but equally importantly, it’s going to allow us to find out if people enjoy riding in driverless cars.”

The vehicles, which are modified Renault Zoe and Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric cars, will have a researcher in the back seat monitoring the functioning. The cars will also have a detection system called Lidar that will use lasers to operate like radar, and two cameras on the dashboard that will detect obstacles and traffic lights.

The company says the service will reduce traffic congestion in the country, and it could serve as a model case for cities across the globe. With good weather and drivers who are known to obey traffic rules, Singapore is an ideal launchpad for the service, the company’s CEO said.


Facebook Messenger Hits 1 Billion Monthly Active Users

Facebook Messenger Hits 1 Billion Monthly Active Users


  • Facebook has more than 1.6 billion users worldwide
  • Facebook’s WhatsApp too has crossed over 1 billion monthly active users
  • Instagram and Oculus too have a wide user base worldwide

Facebook said Wednesday the number of users of its Messenger application had topped one billion, a key milestone as it seeks to expand the platform to new services.

The growth in Messenger gives greater reach to Facebook, which is moving to create a “family” of applications beyond the social network.

“As part of this journey to one billion, we focused on creating the best possible experiences in modern day communications,” said Facebook vice president David Marcus in a statement.

“We remain focused on helping connect people to the people and businesses who matter most.”

Facebook itself has more than 1.6 billion users, and WhatsApp, another messaging application acquired by Facebook for some $20 billion in 2014, also counts more than a billion users.

Other services in the Facebook “family” include Instagram, which more than 500 million use to share images, and Oculus, which makes virtual reality gear.


Marcus told AFP that Messenger’s key markets include North America, Australia, Britain, France, the Philippines, Thailand and several other European countries.

Facebook has been moving to make Messenger a “platform” with other services such as “bots” that deliver news or connect with retailers or other businesses, for example.

Marcus said Messenger has some 18,000 active bots and continues to expand the platform.

Messenger can help monetization because it keeps users in the Facebook ecosystem where they can be targeted with ads.

“We will see that happens in the coming months, but I think that once you have an ecosystem that starts working between businesses and so many users on Messenger, we’ll find more monetization vectors in the future,” Marcus said.

“But we aren’t at the stage where we are rushing to monetize.”

WhatsApp, which is managed independently, does not accept advertising but is exploring ways to allow businesses to use it to connect with customers.

According to the company, Messenger is the second most popular application in Apple’s iOS system behind Facebook itself.

Facebook said more than 17 billion photos are sent to friends through Messenger every month and that Messenger users have played 1.2 billion games of virtual basketball.

Tags: Apps, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Messenger, Social



Chandrababu Naidu Hits Out At Ally BJP Over Andhra Pradesh Special Status

Chandrababu Naidu Hits Out At Ally BJP Over Andhra Pradesh Special Status

Naidu castigated the BJP over the manner in which the issue was handled in the Lok Sabha

VIJAYAWADA:  Hours after meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and extracting an “assurance” over special category state status to Andhra Pradesh, Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu tonight castigated the BJP over the manner in which it referred a private member’s bill on the issue to Lok Sabha Speaker to rule if it was a money bill or not.

“Whom are they trying to cheat? You want to cheat the common people?” Mr Naidu angrily questioned at a press conference upon his return from the national capital.

“Why did you agree to a special discussion (on special status issue) when a private member’s bill (moved by Congress member KVP Ramachandra Rao) has been tabled in Rajya Sabha? Now you have referred it to the Lok Sabha Speaker to determine whether or not it is a Money Bill. They are trying to dilute the issue by raising technicalities,” the Telugu Desam Party president said, lashing out at his alliance partner.

“The Congress has a different agenda, so it is politicising the (special status) issue. Whether it is a Money Bill or not is a different issue. It’s not correct to stifle us between the two (Congress and BJP). What we want is special status,” the chief minister asserted.

He also found fault with his party MP and Union MoS for Science and Technology Y S Chowdary for thumping the desks in Rajya Sabha, along with other Union Ministers, when the Deputy Chairman announced referring of the private member’s Bill to Lok Sabha Speaker in the morning.


“What he has done is not correct,” he remarked.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)