from the predicted-sales-of-6-or-7-mainframes-by-IBM dept.
Five years after its $2 billion purchase of Oculus, Facebook is still pushing forward in its efforts to bring virtual reality to a mainstream audience. But one of the company's six co-founders now doubts Oculus will ever break through.
Jack McCauley told CNBC he doesn't think there's a real market for VR gaming. With Facebook positioning its Oculus devices primarily as gaming machines, McCauley doesn't believe there's much of a market for the device. "If we were gonna sell, we would've sold," McCauley said in a phone interview on Wednesday.
[...] The $199 Oculus Go has sold a little more than 2 million units since its release in May 2018, according to estimates provided by market research firm SuperData, a Nielsen company. The Oculus Quest, which was released this May, has sold nearly 1.1 million units while the Oculus Rift has sold 547,000 units since the start of 2018, according to SuperData.
[...] Since leaving in November 2015, McCauley has enjoyed a semi-retired life. He's an innovator in residence at Berkeley's Jacobs Institute of Design Innovation and he continues to build all sorts of devices, such as a gun capable of shooting down drones, at his own research and development facility.
The cheaper, standalone headsets are selling more units. Add foveated rendering and other enhancements at the lower price points (rather than $1,599 like the Vive Pro Eye), and the experience could become much better.
Related: Oculus Rift: Dead in the Water?
HTC: Death of VR Greatly Exaggerated
As Sales Slide, Virtual Reality Fans Look to a Bright, Untethered Future
Virtual Reality Feels Like a Dream Gathering Dust
VR Gets Reality Check with Significant Decline in Investment
Creepy Messages Will be Found in Facebook's Oculus Touch VR Controllers
Facebook has cut the price of the Oculus Rift for the second time this year. It debuted at $800, was cut to $600 in March, and is now $400. Is there real trouble in the virtual reality market, or is it just a normal price correction now that early adopters have been served?
It means that the Rift now costs less than the package offered by its cheapest rival, Sony, whose PlayStation VR currently totals $460 including headset and controllers.
Even so, it's not clear that it will be enough to lure people into buying a Rift. A year ago, our own Rachel Metz predicted that the Rift would struggle against Sony's offering because the former requires a powerful (and expensive) gaming computer to run, while the latter needs just a $350 PlayStation 4 game console.
Jason Rubin, vice president for content at Oculus, tells Reuters that the reduction isn't a sign of weak product sales, but rather a decision to give the headset more mass market appeal now that more games are available. Don't believe it: this is the latest in a string of bad news for the firm, which has also shut down its nascent film studio, shuttered in-store demo stations of its hardware, and stumped up $250 million as part of a painful intellectual property lawsuit in the last six months.
Here's a February story about the Oculus demo stations at Best Buy stores being shut down.
The blog post in particular references a report from Digital Trends which talks about VR sales figures from Amazon, and proceeds to point out a number of ways which the data presented could be misleading.
Several points made by HTC Vive are ones that have also been addressed by VRFocus, as seen in an article about the modern VR cycle, and some comments in the weekly VR vs. article. HTC Vive were not pulling punches right from the very start, evening saying in the introduction: "Analyst reports are in and apparently, it's curtains for Virtual Reality (VR). Pardon us if we're not heeding the alarms. News of the so-called death of VR comes once a year and is greatly exaggerated."
From there, the blog post proceeds in a point-by-point fashion, discussing how early consumer VR was largely driven by smartphone-based devices such as the Samsung Gear VR and Google Cardboard. Not only have these devices been superseded by standalone units like the Oculus Go, which offer a better visual experience, but the promotional offers which were available for phone launches have now long since passed. HTC Vive also point out that PC-based VR companies are yet to release any solid sales figures, and that much of the growth of premium VR has been centered around location-based VR centres, something which the Digital Trends report did not address.
Wearable watchers, CCS Insight, had good news and bad news for the virtual and augmented reality industry today. Sales are tanking but look! New hardware!
The report underlines just how much the industry has been driven by users of smartphone-based VR, which peaked at 8 million units in 2017 before plummeting to just 3 million in 2018. The net result is the total VR shipments in 2018 will actually end up less than 2017.
[...] But all is not doom and gloom. Stand-alone VR is tipped to hit the big time in 2019, with 29 million of the wireless beauties expected to ship in 2022.
VR vendors, not least the Facebook-backed Oculus, hope so. The Oculus Quest is due to ship in 2019, free of the pesky wires and PC gear needed with the Rift. A cheaper tetherless variant, the Go, has already shipped.
Meanwhile, virtual reality cafes are empty.
it's 2019. I'm at CES, and VR is an idea gathering dust for all the wrong reasons, lost in a sea of strange peripherals and pipe dreams. Self-contained VR devices, like Oculus Quest and the newly announced HTC Vive Cosmos, are en route, but it feels too little, too late. VR has lost the attention of mainstream audiences.
In 2019, VR is a sideshow in a theme park, a marketing stunt, a slide in a PR powerpoint presentation, a niche hobby for people locked in rooms with a ton of money to spend, and -- worse -- no one seems to know what direction we're headed in, or even what virtual reality should be.
TFA cites motion sickness as a continuing issue, one of the same reasons VR didn't catch on 20 years ago. What will it take for VR to finally realize the potential everyone keeps believing it has?
A few years ago, virtual reality was all the rage in Hollywood, helping to fuel the rise of Silicon Beach with the promise of reinventing the entertainment business.
At its peak, investors pumped $253 million into two dozen deals involving virtual and augmented reality start-ups in L.A. and Orange counties in 2016, hoping that pricey headsets projecting virtual worlds would become as popular as smartphones. But investment in the technology has slowed dramatically in recent years, and what seemed like a promising boom has largely fizzled.
Several California companies that raised millions of dollars have shut down or have laid off dozens of workers, as businesses scrambled to readjust their strategies in the face of lackluster consumer demand for VR headsets and a drought of capital.
Take heart, VR enthusiasts. It took several tries for video streaming to catch on, too.
Creepy Messages Will be Found in Facebook's Oculus Touch VR Controllers
Facebook has revealed that hidden messages were inadvertently printed inside VR controllers that will be shipped to customers soon:
Facebook said it accidentally hid bizarre and "inappropriate" messages inside "tens of thousands" of virtual-reality controllers, including "Big Brother is Watching" and "The Masons Were Here." Nate Mitchell, the cofounder of Oculus, the Facebook-owned VR company, said on Twitter on Friday that the company inadvertently printed some unusual messages in its Touch controllers, handheld devices for playing games and navigating VR environments.
These messages were intended only for prototypes, but a mistake meant they were included in regular production devices, he said. Some messages were included in developer kits for people building software for the product, while others made their way into consumer devices in significantly larger numbers. While there should have been no internal messages of any kind in any of the devices, a Facebook representative told Business Insider that the company would not recall them.
"Unfortunately, some 'easter egg' labels meant for prototypes accidentally made it onto the internal hardware for tens of thousands of Touch controllers," Mitchell wrote. "The messages on final production hardware say 'This Space For Rent' & 'The Masons Were Here.' A few dev kits shipped with 'Big Brother is Watching' and 'Hi iFixit! We See You!' but those were limited to non-consumer units," he said. iFixit is a tech repair company known for publicly deconstructing new gadgets and posting photos of their innards online.
Also at Road to VR.
Related: Facebook Announces a New Standalone VR Headset: Oculus Quest; HTC Releases Vive Wireless Adapter
(nobody made a submission about Rift S because it is boring)
Submitted via IRC for Bytram
Starting this week, the Oculus Quest VR headset becomes even more tantalizing by adding a feature we've never seen ship as a built-in option in a VR system: hand tracking. VR users will be able to put down their controllers and use their fingers to manipulate VR worlds, as tracked by Quest's array of built-in cameras.
The feature received a tease at October's Oculus Connect 6 conference and got an "early 2020" launch window from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. But someone on the Oculus engineering team clearly ignored Lord Zuck in getting this feature out the door a bit early, and it will land in an "experimental" tab in Quest's settings menus as a free update by week's end.
Today's news comes with two important asterisks. First, there's no fully fledged VR software available for the feature yet. At launch, the experimental feature will only work within Oculus Quest's root menu, which at least includes photo and multimedia viewing tabs. Within "a week" of the toggle going live, a Software Development Kit (SDK) for Quest hand tracking will go live for Oculus developers, which will allow them to tap into Oculus' hand-tracking system and potentially implement it in various games and apps.
And second, Oculus is limiting its hand-tracking framework to the Quest ecosystem. This update isn't coming to the PC-centric Rift or Rift S headsets, and it won't work if you use Oculus Link to connect a Quest to your favorite PC VR games.
Also at CNET
Signaling the end to any remaining degrees of separation between Facebook and its VR headset division, Oculus, today the social media company announced that it will be further integrating the two services. Coming this fall, the company will begin sunsetting stand-alone Oculus accounts as part of an effort to transition the entire Oculus ecosystem over to Facebook. This will start in October, when all new Oculus accounts and devices will have to sign up for a Facebook account, while support for existing stand-alone accounts will be retired entirely at the start of 2023.
Previously: Facebook to Buy Rift Maker Oculus VR for $2bn
Facebook/Oculus Ordered to pay $500 Million to ZeniMax
Founder of Oculus VR, Palmer Luckey, Departs Facebook
Facebook Announces Oculus Go for $200
Facebook's Zuckerberg Wants to Get One Billion People in VR
Facebook Launches Oculus Go, a $200 Standalone VR Headset
Oculus Co-Founder Says there is No Market for VR Gaming
John Carmack Steps Down at Oculus to Pursue AI Passion Project
Facebook is Developing its Own OS to Reduce Dependence on Android