While we are all relatively in the dark when it comes to the reasoning behind the recent delays in Oculus Rift virtual reality headset shipments, new rumors have emerged, this time out of Taiwan. While there is little doubt that frustrations are boiling over because of the multi-month delay in shipments for pre-order customers, we may have found what the true cause of the unforeseen delay could very well be. According to DigiTimes Research, a Taiwan-based research firm, Facebook and their subsidiary Oculus have run into a problem with the manufacturing of a key component of the device, the Fresnel Lens.
A Fresnel lens basically allows for the miniaturization of optics. Instead of requiring a thick piece of plastic or glass in the form of a lens, Oculus was able to compact the lens while still allowing for key optical performance. Fresnel lenses are nothing new to the optics world, but Oculus seems to have underestimated the difficultly in producing such custom lenses in mass quantity, according to this latest rumor. Hairline cracks and fractures can be of issue, and Oculus must make sure that each lens is produced without fault. According to DigiTimes Research, these issues likely will delay some pre-orders for as long as 4 months, taking shipments well into August. With that said, if Oculus can not figure out a way to overcome the production complexity of the lens, the delays could persist for quite some time, as the company would have to consider redesigning the entire headset as well as OLED screens, and lens shape.
If the rumors by the research firm are to be believed, these delays have allowed HTC and their Vive headset to greatly surpass the Oculus Rift in terms of shipments. In fact DigiTimes has estimated that the HTC Vive will have shipped 234% more headsets by the end of 2016 than Oculus would have, and this gap between the two headsets could continue to grow if Oculus is unable to get the lens issues under control in short order.
HTC’s experience in supply chain management and shipping, via past smartphone roll-outs, has certainly played in their favor. Whether these rumors are just rumors or are actually grounded in facts known by DigiTimes, we really can’t say for certain. With that said, DigiTimes may have access to key component manufacturers working with Oculus, many of whom operate in Taiwan as well, and this rumor seems to have at least some legs to it.
What are your thoughts on the continued shipment delays? Let us know in the Oculus Delays forum on VRTalk.com.