Taiwan-based smartphone brand HTC Corp. (宏達電) said Saturday that it will continue to grow its physical distribution network in Japan for its first virtual reality headset, the HTC Vive.

Since the launch of the HTC Vive in 36 brick-and-mortar outlets in Japan on July 7, consumers have been showing warm interest, HTC said, adding that it plans to increase the number of distributors there to 45 by the end of the year.

Initial Vive sales in the 36 stores have surpassed online sales in the Japanese market, HTC said, but did not disclose the sales figures.

Earlier in the week, international tech reports said HTC had sold about 100,000 units of the Vive globally since the launch of its global sales in April, raking in about US$80 million in revenue.

HTC recently teamed up with three major Japanese distributors – Dospara, Tsukumo and Unitcom — to sell the Vive in that market, where consumers can now visit the 36 authorized stores to try the VR headset.

One of the 36 venues is the commercial complex Sunshine City in Ikebukuro, Tokyo, which is a popular recreational area among young Japanese consumers.

The Vive is one of HTC’s gambits to diversify away from its core smartphone market, which is saturated and intensely competitive, in the hope of creating an additional revenue source and turning around its business.

The HTC Vive, jointly developed by HTC and U.S. video game supplier Valve, was unveiled at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) show in March 2015. The headset is equipped with tracked controllers that allow wearers to inspect objects from every angle and interact with their surroundings.

In addition to its latest cooperation with Japanese distributors, HTC is also planning to work with a number of hardware and software developers in Japan to broaden its content portfolio for the use of the HTC Vive.

The partners include VR developers Epic Games Japan and Unity Technologies Japan, game software supplier Namco Bandai, VR content investor Colopl Next, and gaming website operator Gree, HTC said.

Meanwhile, in HTC’s home market, physical sales of the Vive are expected to start July 12.

(By Esme Jiang and Frances Huang)

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