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How Xiaomi Is Helping Facebook Launch Its VR headset in China

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Feb. 9 2018, Published 7:17 p.m. ET

Facebook teams up with China’s Xiaomi

Through Oculus, its virtual reality (or VR) company, Facebook (FB) has partnered with Chinese handset maker Xiaomi to launch its first VR headset for China (FXI) (MCHI). The Oculus’s new headset, Mi VR Standalone, is expected to be built exclusively for China.

The headset will have a 2K LCD screen, a spatial audio technology from Oculus, and will enable users to see 360-degree videos and games through the Mi VR Store. However, other details about its pricing and launch timing were not disclosed. Unlike other VR devices, standalone headsets can work without being attached to a PC or smartphone.

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Xiaomi hardware and Oculus Go

Facebook has been working to expand in the virtual reality world since the social media giant acquired Oculus in 2014 for $2.0 billion. In October 2017, Facebook had announced a VR headset called Oculus Go.

In an event at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Facebook announced that China’s Xiaomi would make hardware for Oculus Go. Oculus Go is expected to be available to consumers in early 2018 and would cost around $199.

Facebook added that both its Mi VR headset and Oculus Go would be built with Xiaomi hardware and would run on Qualcomm’s (QCOM) Snapdragon 821 processor.

Partnership with Chinese company

China has been one of the most stringent countries with respect to strict censorship laws. Facebook’s association with a Chinese company and using its hardware was necessary to avoid any censorship issues in the country, which doesn’t allow foreign companies to operate within its borders.

According to Counterpoint Research, Xiaomi held ranks fourth in the smartphone segment in China at the end of 4Q17. Huawei leads the market, followed by Oppo and Vivo. Apple (AAPL) is ranked fifth position in China’s smartphone industry, as its market share declined in the first half of 2017.

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