Its sales in the mainstream markets may be under a cloud, but virtual reality seems to have taken off in the gaming industry. According to Andrew House, CEO of Sony Corporation's (SNE) Interactive Entertainment unit, the company has sold 915,000 Playstation VR headsets since they were launched in October last year. In an interview with the New York Times, House said that customers were "lining up outside stores when they know that stock (of its VR headsets) is being replenished" in Japan, one of the largest markets for its Playstation gaming consoles. The company has a sales target of one million VR headsets by April 2017. (See also: Sony Enters VR Race With Playstation VR.)

The affirmation from House comes after Facebook, Inc. (FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg told a Texas court that the technology would require a further infusion of more than $3 billion before it became mainstream. The social media giant acquired VR headset maker Oculus Rift for $2 billion in 2014 and has bet its future on virtual reality, calling it the next major content platform after smartphones and social networks. Its headsets, which have to be connected to powerful computers to operate, have premium pricing and boast content partnerships with major Hollywood studios. (See also: Facebook's Oculus Rift Could Soon Be 10% of Its Revenue.)

However, Facebook faces stiff competition from major hardware manufacturers, such as Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (SSNLF) and HTC, which have also released their own VR headsets. Alphabet Inc. (GOOG) subsidiary Google also jumped into the fray and released a smartphone-enabled headset called Daydream VR last year. While each of these companies has touted features and content partnerships, they have not released actual sales figures related to the headsets. The New York Times article quotes a research firm as saying that 243,000 Oculus Rift headsets and 420,000 HTC Vive headsets had been sold by the end of last year. (See also: Google Expands Its Virtual Reality Offerings.)

Based on those figures, it would seem that Sony has emerged as a leader in this nascent category. As the New York Times article points out, the Japanese company had the advantage of a ready-made gaming audience addicted to its best-selling consoles, which are already equipped with the powerful NVIDIA Corporation (NVDA) chips required to play VR. This enabled Sony to bring down its headset cost to $400. For context, Facebook's Oculus Rift and HTC's Vive headsets cost $700 and $800 per device. (See also: Did Facebook Just Turn Virtual Reality Mainstream?)

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