Will VR ever be mainstream? Samsung, which has had one of the biggest VR hardware hits so far with the Gear VR, still doesn't know if or when.
Young Sohn, Samsung's president and chief strategy officer, told an event in San Francisco: "Is [VR] hype or mainstream? I don't have an answer." He also said that Samsung is holding off on the launch of its confirmed high end standalone VR headset to match the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive until it's clear that these types of devices will be widely adopted.
Sohn described the VR headset game as having a "chicken and egg problem right now" - to take VR mainstream we need great, affordable headsets but some companies don't want to spend on R&D for headsets until they know it will be mainstream.
What Sohn and other execs are comparing VR headset sales to remains to be seen. Obviously the Gear VR is powered by recent and brand spanking new Galaxy and Note phones so it's another reason to buy a Samsung phone. Ditto its upcoming Daydream headsets and phones.
There's over one million active Gear VR users, according to Oculus, and around 500,000 have been shifted in Europe alone. But while we don't know firm sales figures for the Vive and Rift, it's likely to be less than 100,000 for each headset so far.
It's unusual for Samsung to not jump into a new category and try out form factors and specs till they stick - see its smartwatch strategy. As for what we'll see, Sohn hinted that the next gen of VR headsets will have "at least two times" the pixel density to make VR sharper and more realistic. There was even talk of 10K and 11K displays but that would mean Samsung forking out at least $5 billion to make it happen.
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