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Eric Risberg / AP

The battle to control the virtual reality market is shaping up to be a struggle between familiar foes and allies. On the one hand, you have Intel and Microsoft pushing to get the PC makers to build machines based on Windows Mixed Reality while on the other hand, Google and Qualcomm are wooing the smartphone makers to build mobile VR units based on Android.

"You play to your strengths," says Creative Strategies analyst Carolina Milanesi.

The bigger question: It is not certain how big the market is for dedicated VR devices, no matter who makes them. Also, there's the question of what shape makes the most sense. You have low-cost devices like Daydream and Gear VR that have more limitations but take advantage of a smartphone for display and power. At the higher end you have Sony's PlayStation VR, HTC's Vive, and Oculus' Rift.

So perhaps the question isn't necessarily mobile versus desktop, but rather how much room there is for a midrange VR device at all.

Intel's view: Intel, for its part, sees a range of different devices coming to market over the next few years. It is at the center of Microsoft's tethered PC strategy, but has touted Project Alloy, a standalone VR concept device that makes use not only of Intel processors, but also its RealSense camera technology.

"This really is a long-term revolution in the way people interact with the computing technology," Kim Pallister, director of Intel's VR center of excellence, told Axios. "There will be lots of different attempts."

Qualcomm's take: Qualcomm, not surprisingly, sees the future of VR as having little to do with PCs. "We think that PC VR is an evolutionary dead end, because no one wants to be tethered by a cable or even a short range wireless connection to a PC," Qualcomm VP Tim Leland told Axios. Long term, the company sees virtual and augmented reality coming together in a single, untethered headset, though there are technical hurdles in both displays and computer vision that must be overcome to make something lightweight and affordable enough for consumer use.

Go deeper

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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Federal Reserve and global central banks are remaking the world's economy in an effort to save it, but have created something of a monster.

Why it matters: The Fed-driven economy relies on the creation of trillions of dollars — literally out of thin air — that are used to purchase bonds and push money into a pandemic-ravaged economy that has long been dependent on free cash and is only growing more addicted.

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

It's time to polish our gleaming vision of urban environments where internet technology makes everything from finding a parking space to measuring air quality a snap.

Why it matters: The Biden administration's Cabinet appointees are likely to be champions of bold futurism in urban planning — which could mean that smart infrastructure projects, like broadband deployment and digital city services, get fresh funding and momentum.

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Hong Kong pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai detained on fraud charge

An activist holds a placard highlighting China's Tiananmen Square massacre as pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai arrives at West Kowloon Magistrates' Court in Hong Kong in November. Photo: Isaac Wong/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai is being detained until an April court hearing after the pro-democracy supporter was charged Thursday with fraud, per his Apple Daily news outlet.

Why it matters: The 72-year-old's arrest and denial of bail is another blow for the pro-democracy movement in the former British colony amid concerns about a fresh crackdown on activists.

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