China VR market explores new vistas

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From discerning consumers who want only the best to the budget-conscious, VR offers a ‘try before you buy’ opportunity for everyone. And no consumer is more demanding and money-wise than the Chinese customer. That’s why Chinese premium lifestyle travel platform Zanadu has made a very smart decision to develop a Travel Virtual Reality app for its affluent clients. The app features VR content that provides an experiential view of the world’s most sought-after travel destinations.

"The luxury travel industry in China is experiencing a major growth spurt. The affluent Chinese traveller is always looking for new outlets to explore a chosen destination before making a financial commitment. Zanadu saw this demand as the perfect opportunity to create a virtual reality bridge between travellers and luxe destinations, through a unique experiential journey,'' said Creative Director & CMO of Zanadu, Dirk Eschenbacher.

The new app features China's first VR travel film The Dream that takes viewers on an immersive travel experience. The video is the first of many slated for release on the Zanadu platform and on third party platforms like Samsung's MILK and Oculus and YouTube 360 in 2016. Zanadu also launched its own content production studio to produce travel-themed content.

The travel company has formed a strategic content partnership with Tencent Video to feature its travel VR content on Tencent's VR app. Tencent has invested in Zanadu, leading a Series A+ round of more than $12 million in the online travel company.

Several investments are signalling the Shenzhen, Guangdong-based internet giant’s plans for a role in the exploding VR sector. In July 2015 Tencent was one of the investors when AltspaceVR raised $10.3 million to further develop its virtual reality chat room and communications platform. The internet company has also increased its stake in Epic Games, the developer of the Unreal Engine 4 video game creation software and the same company that has developed a new tool that lets game developers design and work on their games while immersed in virtual reality, reports stock market and financial markets analyst, Seeking Alpha

In November 2015 Tencent gave a further indication of its VR ambitions when it announced that the first Tencent VR device will be launched in the latter half of 2016, reported by the China Daily. At the same time the company announced its new project called miniStation. It's a gaming console developed in partnership with Lenovo that will be connected to Tencent's virtual reality device, which is compatible with the Tencent Operating System.

Tencent will face competition from another online video giant in China: LeTV Holdings Co Ltd, which is heavily invested in developing VR devices. At the release of its first VR device Cool 1 in December 2015, Ablikim Ablimit, strategic vice-president of LeTV said the company aims to build a platform for all companies involved in VR technology.

The Chinese VR market is estimated to reach $880 million ($5.7 billion yuan) in 2016 according to iResearch Consulting Group, a Beijing-based research company. Research firm Digi-Capital estimates the global VR industry will generate $30 billion in revenue by 2020.