Crack the Shell of Oculus VR Headset Line-up: How Oculus is Preparing to Democratize the Virtual Reality Market

At Facebook’s Oculus Connect 4, Oculus VR’s annual conference, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Oculus Go, $199 all-in-one untethered VR headset. Now, VR is poised to enter the mainstream with the roll-out of this attractively priced VR headset.

Introduction to VR Landscape: VR Companies’ Big Betting for Standalone Headsets

In the VR landscape, Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, both debuted in 2016, have been old enemies in successfully delivering completely absorbing VR experience. While the high-end VR industry faced obstacles on its journey to going mainstream, the phone-based VR like Samsung’s Gear VR and Google’s Daydream have been widely adopted thanks to their much lower prices. In particular, as Google rolled out to expand its Daydream VR platform to be available on Samsung Galaxy S8 and Note8 beyond niche Android phones, Google ecosystem has become emerging threats to Samsung’s Gear VR powered by Facebook-owned Oculus.

by David Jagneaux (Google Daydream Support Arrives For Samsung Galaxy S8 And S8+) / UploadVR

Since buying a mobile VR headset such as $79 Daydream View and $129 GearVR isn’t a huge investment, entry barriers to buy one of them are very low. However, these mobile VR headsets are less comfortable than PC-based high-end devices — Oculus Rift and HTC Vive — because of the pressure from the weight of an entire smartphone on the front part of the user’s face as well as less sophisticated technical completion they offer. In the midst of growing competition for being the market leader in VR, the idea of a standalone VR headset is a great big pie that will only grow larger for fans of VR. Intel was the first to kick off its Project Alloy for an all-in-one merged reality solution although the project was killed earlier this year. Also, Google announced that it would offer a new standalone VR headset in concurrence with HTC Vive and Lenovo at Google I/O conference. Last but not least, recently, at Facebook’s Oculus Connect 4, Oculus VR’s annual developer conference, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Oculus Go, $199 all-in-one untethered VR headset as well.

by Sean Buckley/CNET

Moving into a New Phase of Ascension: Loosen the Belt of Partnership?

As Samsung, Oculus’ major ally that has successfully promoted the Gear VR far better than Oculus, recently joined to support Google’s Daydream view, the strong relationship between Oculus and Samsung moved into a new phase. Firstly, Oculus doubled its VR hardware lineup by adding two new headsets — a full motion tracking wireless headset codenamed Santa Cruz and Oculus Go featuring built-in display and electronics. Thanks to its four different lineup — Gear VR, Go, Santa Cruz, and Rift, in case Samsung discontinues to produce GearVR and fully supports Daydream, Oculus would still have its own mobile VR headset category to support its developer ecosystem.

The new Oculus VR lineup (Sean Hollister/CNET)

As a sign of Samsung’s ambition to directly compete with the Rift for hardware sales, Samsung recently introduced its premium Odyssey VR headset which will run on the Windows 10 platform. Samsung’s Odyssey will be a flagship headset for Microsoft’s mixed reality platform and spur Microsoft on a strong brand power along with Oculus and Google in the VR landscape. However, Oculus officially mentions that its relationship with Samsung is stronger than ever. Oculus even provides its’ biggest VR platform update called Rift Core 2.0 to Gear VR headset right from the word go, which will bring new VR experience with Dash, enabling existing menus and UI in the dashboard for multi-tasking to be more magical just like in Minority Report. In addition, not only did Facebook’s VR chief Hugo Barra say that Oculus Go and Santa Cruz are not supposed to replace the Rift and GearVR, but also Oculus CTO John Carmack consistently praised Samsung about its ability to distribute Gear VR to a wide range of customers.

Microsoft Official Image

Oculus is Preparing to Democratize the Virtual Reality Market

VR is a platform that may change the life of billions of people, but the current VR user base is certainly too small to survive the hype cycle. Even if a VR game is released for several different VR headsets such as Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR, it’s difficult to be profitable. That’s why Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who believes VR is the next big thing, declared Facebook’s mission to get a billion people into virtual reality. As a first step, Mark Zuckerberg announced competitive pricing for its existing high-end hardware Oculus Rift and Touch controller bundle at $399, much cheaper compared to $599 HTC’s Vive. Furthermore, $199 Oculus Go will fill the “sweet spot” between expensive, high-end Oculus Rift and cheap, lightweight Gear VR. Oculus is also building the next generation of a standalone higher-end hardware Santa Cruz, a lot like wireless Rift. At Oculus Connect 4, Oculus CTO Carmack hinted that Oculus Go and the Santa Cruz will converge eventually.

Oculus Connect 4 | Day 2 Keynote: CTO John Carmack

HTC Vive is hot on the trail of Oculus by officially unveiling its standalone VR headset powered by Google Daydream at the Vive developer conference on November 14 as well. The announcement will come after the release of Oculus Go. We’re expecting the technical maturity of those standalone VR headsets and looking forward to seeing how these can change the VR market landscape. For now, it is still unclear how long it will take to get a billion people into VR and whom we shall bet on to win this horse racing. Yet, here is what we can definitely bet on: this sort of hard work by not only Oculus but also other competitors such as HTC Vive with Google Daydream will bring VR into the real world and democratize the VR market in the near future.

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HTC VIVE standalone VR headset concept image

Reference

Oculus Connect 4 | Day 1 & Day 2 Keynote (by Oculus)

Why is Oculus making four different VR headsets? (by Adi Robertson / The Verge)

With Facebook’s money, Oculus is fending off old enemies, former friends, and new foes (by Ben Lang / Road To VR)

Oculus’ standalone headsets point to a changing VR landscape (by Nicole Lee / Engadget)

Why this bulky standalone headset from Oculus is the future of VR (by Daniel Terdiman / Fast Company)

The VR price war is on : Facebook unveils $199 Oculus Go standalone headset (by Robert Hof / SiliconAngle)

HTC, Qualcomm to roll out standalone VR headset, but it’ll be available only in China (By Carl Velasco / Tech Times)

Samsung Odyssey is the Premium Windows VR Headset with Leading Specs, Integrated Audio (By Ben Lang / Road To VR)

Oculus’ prototype Santa Cruz headset feels like a wireless Oculus Rift (By Adi Robertson / The Verge)

Report: HTC to unveil standalone VR headset at Vive developer conference in November (By Scott Hayden / Road To VR)