The last few weeks have likely been hell for many Facebook / Oculus employees. With hundreds of thousands of Oculus Rift VR headsets ordered, and the company unable to fulfill those orders on time due to an alleged component supply issue, it would be an understatement to say that thousands of customers have gotten a little bit antsy. While Oculus has not elaborated on just which components were lacking supply, or why such supply issues may lead to delays in shipments of up to two months, an anonymous poster on Reddit last evening gave what he/she claims to be the full story, and it certainly shifts most of the blame from Facebook / Oculus towards an unlikely villain, Microsoft.
While we can not say for certain if the post on Reddit is completely true, as we investigate the issue further, the story does seem to have some legs and appears to be collaborated in some respect by another unnamed individual within the company. The anonymous poster started his statement with the following paragraph:
“I have been closely involved in [the] Oculus launch preparation. It would be unwise for me to disclose the exact nature of my relationship with Oculus, but I can say I have been directly exposed to the whole process and know enough do give you details. I am making this confession because there has been so much disinformation, FUD and accusations on the internet recently and because I believe community deserves a proper explanation (and you are hopefully going understand why Oculus cannot do that directly).”
He then goes on to explain that the company had pre-sold a staggering 300,000 Rift units on day one and that the backlog is actually much greater than this. The missing component which caused this incredibly large backlog allegedly is an Xbox One controller and wireless adapter. The poster claims that the backlog amounts to approximately one full quarter of Microsoft’s demand for Xbox One controllers, putting both Microsoft and Oculus in a sticky situation. Microsoft should had been prepared, however, at least according to the posted.
“We were promised about 100K Controller + Adapter units delivered by Microsoft directly to the distribution centres at the end of Feb + regular monthly batches thereafter and were advised multiple times that everything is on track. When shipment date was getting close, shocking truth was revealed: due to “omission” by Microsoft stocking department, “our” batch of controllers was actually never allocated and reserved – there was simply nothing to ship! This was absolutely shocking case of mismanagement
Then the hell broke loose. Countless conference calls later it was clear that there is no chance for MS to deliver any substantial volume of units at least until the end of the March. This was definitively the most stressful period in my career ever, it was already March, we had no controllers to put in the boxes and the atmosphere was very tense. At this point literally every single possible solution was evaluated. Microsoft was able to provide a few thousands units on a very short notice, but this was not nearly enough. Additionally, all sort of wholesale (and even retail) vendors were approached, with some success – so that is why small batches of the Rifts (mostly for Kickstarter backers) were actually sent out,” reads the post.”
The poster then suggests that Oculus had considered shipping the Rifts without the controller and adaptor, providing a voucher for these components at a later date, but ultimately decided against this move. They felt that it was better to ship the products late, rather than ship them incomplete, and Facebook management likely agreed that this was the best approach. According to the poster, Oculus has recently received 80,000 controllers from Microsoft in a batch deliver and will begin shipping these with units sometime next week. Additionally the company is expecting a similar 80,000 controller batch coming near the end of this month as well. The anonymous individual closed his post with the following statement:
“I totally agree that communication aspect here could have been handled much better. I am sure if we knew what we know now, completely different decisions would had been made (yes, I know, easy to say now). And now: believe me, the team would love to officially announce what exactly is going on, but contractual agreement absolutely prevent us from disclosing any details about the deal with Microsoft publicly – and this includes nature (or even existence) of any problems, if/when they arise. Despite that, I (and I am sure many others) still feel that we failed the community who put a lot of trust in our words – this is why I am writing this now, although it might not be the most sensible thing to do. Please forgive us. We all learned a lot from this situation and strive to do much better in the future.”
While, like we said, it’s impossible to know if these claims are 100% factual, they do make a lot of sense, and if this was the case of Microsoft dropping the ball, and Oculus simply being unprepared for the fallout, one has to feel for those working their butts off to get their customers a headset ASAP. Let’s hear your thoughts on this fiasco in the Microsoft / Oculus Rift Delay forum on VRTalk.com.