The big move all started with Oculus Rift raised $2.5M in Kickstarter in 2012. Then, with the leadership of Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook acquired Oculus for $2B, which was seemingly insane for a company that doesn't really have a matching revenue. However, as we all know, in Silicon Valley, traditional business isn't the criteria. It is not your revenue, but your future potential revenue or net user growth. Mark Zuckerberg realized that the future is of virtual reality and Oculus could be the leading player in the field.
Almost all experts and companies thought 2016 would be the year of virtual reality, but we have yet to see an explosion of virtual reality headsets and innovative open source developments by 3rd party developers. Even though the largest tech companies including Facebook with Oculus Rift, Microsoft with HoloLens, Sony with Play Station, Samsung with Gear VR, HTC with Vive and lastly Google with cardboard.
All of them have their strengths and weaknesses, however, the basic reason why there is no mainstream adaptation can be seen as there is no revolutionary universal simple affordable beautiful solution in the market yet.
- Oculus Rift is too pricy, $600 and needs very high computing power
- HoloLens is even pricier at $3000 and again needs high computing power
- Sony Playstation VR needs a PS and has limited content
- Samsung Gear at $99 (great price point) only runs with Samsung smartphones
- Google cardboard at $15 price point aims to reach to the masses, however, as always, Google doesn't do push marketing and the product doesn't have the word of mouth or excitement within itself to create the buzz to spread to the masses. It looks too simple and most probably, people don't imagine themselves wearing it and have an awesome experience
Among all the large tech companies, Apple kept its silence for VR headsets even though it will have a huge potential market with billions of Apple devices to support the headset. We know they acquired a few VR companies and they like to keep it a secret and announce it in their keynote events, however, they may also risk to miss the train of being the first player before someone else finds a way to tempt the Apple users.
Virtual Reality has yet to catch the expectations. We don't if it will take another surprising Kickstarter for a fresh startup to find the way to beautifully and affordably reach to the masses or one of the large companies to find the way inside, but we have a feeling 2017 can be the year for VR when ideas are polished and big data is analyzed.