Samsung's Gear VR is what virtual reality tastes like, but it's just a small plate of the type of stuff Facebook's Oculus VR and HTC are cooking up and dishing out next year. The hungry hordes of VR adopters have already gobbled up the first batch of Gear VR, doing so for a reason that speaks to the mobile platform's edge against the others.
The head-mounted smartphone holder that is Gear VR will be outclassed when the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive arrive in Q1 2016, but there's a lot to love about Samsung's mobile solution in bringing VR to the masses.
Though it isn't delivering graphical fidelity at par with what's to come from the heavyweights next year, it's cheaper than the Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive and Sony's Morpheus. Pricing is still unconfirmed for the three aforementioned headsets, but they're not going this low: $99 a pop.
Samsung began fulfilling orders of Gear VR on Thursday and expanding its international preorders for the VR headset. However, two of Gear VR's outlets, Amazon and Best Buy, have already sold out of their initial stock of Samsung's VR headset just a day later.
Geared to You
For the uninitiated, Gear VR relies on the power of a Samsung flagship phone. Compatible handsets include the Galaxy Note5, Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 Edge and Galaxy S6 Edge+.
The hundred-dollar headset has lenses to harness the high resolution of Galaxy handset's displays, and a touch pad on the right side of the unit.
On the software side, the Gear VR leverages Oculus VR's technology to format content for the pair of eyeballs inside of the headset. So the Gear VR truly is offering consumers their first taste of what the Oculus Rift headset will deliver early next year.
Bottomline: Put the Masses in Gear
The mobile slice of the VR sector is forecasted to generate nearly $1 billion in revenues by the end of 2016 and fatten to about $4.4 billion by the close of 2019, according to SuperData Researcher's preliminary study into the nascent market.
With Gear VR, Samsung gets to be the first to push VR hardware out to the mainstream and it serves as a lure to bring brand-new Galaxy owners in. The company is putting itself at the tip of a sector that; according to SuperData's Stephanie Llamas, will drive the bulk of VR sales at first.
"Initially, affordable smartphone devices will drive the bulk of sales as consumers first explore virtual reality before committing to the more expensive platforms," said Llamas. "After this first wave, however, it will be especially console gamers that will spur growth of high-end VR devices."
So before consumers learn what they're missing come Q1 2016, Samsung is jumping out of the gates to get people investing in the Galaxy ecosystem. The lure is in a $99 price point.