While 2014 may have been the year that 3D printers exploded into the market, and 2015 the year of the drone, 2016 will likely go down as the year of virtual reality. Starting yesterday the first sparks of what will certainly be a virtual reality explosion came about, and over the next three to six months we will likely see more shipments of VR devices than over the last couple of years combined.
With Oculus, HTC, Microsoft and Samsung all preparing to ship out thousands of VR devices as early as today, the entire VR ecosystem is about to grow like gangbusters. Below you will find just a sample of some of the major launches and shipments planned over the next couple of weeks:
Oculus initially planned to begin shipping their Rift VR headset on March 28th, but reports have confirmed that shipments have begun either yesterday or this morning. There are thousands of backers from the original Kickstarter campaign who will soon have a Rift at their doorstep. Rumors have indicated that Oculus may have pre-sold over 250,000 units to date, all of which will likely begin to be shipped out in waves over the next several weeks and months ahead. These number do seem to make sense if you consider that over 100,000 DK2 units were pre-sold in just over 4 months time.
Just one week after Oculus’ official shipment launch date, HTC plans to begin shipping the very first Vive VR headsets. While the pricier Vive likely did not pre-sell as well as the Rift, rumors have indicated that HTC may be preparing to ship out more than 50,000 devices over the next several weeks. Considering 15,000 units were pre-sold within the first 10 minutes according to HTC, this number may in fact be low.
Samsung Gear VR:
As you may know, when Samsung unveiled their Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge smartphones, they also announced a promotion in which they gave each customer a voucher for a free Gear VR headset. Well, just yesterday we got word that those individuals who sent the vouchers in are finally being notified that their Gear VR heads would be shipped between April 1 and April 30. While there is no indication as to how many vochers have been sent in or how many S7 devices were sold, the number could eventually be in the hundreds of thousands. While the Gear VR has been available for many month, this recent promotion should add a substantial number of new VR enthusiasts to the ecosystem.
Last but not least, yesterday was also a big day for Microsoft as they began to notify developers, who had pre-ordered the HoloLens developer kit for $3,000, that their kits were being shipped out immediately. While there was likely only a small number of developer kits pre-ordered at this surprisingly high price, what this means is that thousands of HoloLens headsets will now be out there and new applications will soon be available. Within 12-18 months we are sure that the HoloLens will be available for retail purchase.
Certainly we are living in exciting times. As these hundreds of thousands of new headsets make their way to customers and developers, new games, applications and experiences will explode into the market. Get ready!