7 January 2016

Oculus Rift CV1 - It's the dates not the price which worry


So we put in our order for the Oculus Rift CV1 yesterday. Balked a bit at the UK price (£529, inc shipping), but VR is our business so we really need to have one. But the price alone, and the widespread internet reaction to it (forcing an apology from Palmer Luckey over misleading fans by still talking about an around a $350 price tag just days ago) shows that in consumer terms this going to be more of gamer/geek/gearhead bit of kit rather than something for everyone. Of course for business users and B2C marketing it's still way cheap when you consider what some of the alternatives (physical training, travel etc) are, or what the potential payback is (£££ in sales).

Slightly more worrying from our point of view is the delivery date, or should that be dates? When we logged in at 4pm (GMT) yesterday as orders opens the delivery date was March. By the time we'd actually managed to get through the order process it was April. Just minutes after that we saw people on Twitter reporting May, and today we're seeing posts talking about June. So we assume that this must all be linked to production rates, there isn't a warehouse of tens, hundreds of thousands of these things ready to ship, there's a production line, and its probably only building 1k-10k a month. Yes that could no doubt be ramped up, but it means that CV1 is likely to be in short supply until well into the summer, possibly the autumn - so that really limits businesses, and our, ability to make use of it in education, training, data visualisation and marketing.

So for the foreseeable future it still looks like the Google Cardboard route is the best one for widespread VR adoption, and it will be interesting to see if the Samsung VR Gear falls on the Cardboard or CV1 side of the fence. I also think it will be interesting long term to see if Oculus' future is in the hardware (where they will always be behind mobile phones in cost and screen resolution, if not performance), or in software (as they are doing with Samsung, use their smarts with other people's hardware). We all know that in tech consumers tend to prefer price/convenience over performance, so if Oculus sticks with its own sophisticated hardware we could be entering another VHS vs Betamax competition, and we all know how that panned out.

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