Samsung Gear VR at one point was the most popular virtual reality headset. Although its reign at the top didn’t last very long, the headset was a fantastic introduction into virtual reality for many users. This headset allow you to use your phone as the virtual screen and computing system, as these headsets were just lens. Along with Samsung VR, we saw Google Cardboard make a nice intro to virtual reality as well. After the two popular headsets made it big, many companies were making plastic knock-off headsets to compete. What they didn’t know, and Samsung likely didn’t know yet either, is that the virtual industry was booming, and bigger and better things were in store.
John Carmack gives his own keynote at the Oculus Connect events each year. This year, he included something he described as “a eulogy” for the Samsung Gear VR. This was prompted by the news that the news Galaxy Note 10 won’t be supporting the basic VR options, and that the following phones from this series won’t feature the same capabilities.
Carmack notes how much time and effort he has put into this project, and he hates to see it die the way it is. he also notes that for its time on the shelves, it was incredibly successful. People loved it. You can check out our favorite part of the keynote below.
“I do think that we missed an opportunity here. I invested a whole lot of effort into it and it’s the foundation that we’ve built all the mobile things off of. But looking back it’s clear we had huge unit volumes […] much larger than all our other headsets. And it had good reviews, people liked it. But it was not retentive. I mean the retention we have Quest, Rift S, Rift, Go, and then Gear VR is way lower.”
End of Mobile Headsets
With the biggest mobile smartphone headset being discontinued, it is nearly safe to safe smartphone VR is dead. Google hasn’t updated the Daydream systems in over a year, Samsung is no longer producing, and no other companies have the platform and community to build this from scratch again. Next to no content is being produced from the community or developers for mobile VR, and Google even stopped acquiring content.
Smartphone VR was perfect for an introduction to virtual reality for many people, but it posed a lot of problems that had simple fixes. Sliding your everyday personal phone into the headset isn’t a good idea in the first place. To pause your virtual game or show and make a phone call or text, you need to dissemble your entire headset. The phones that were compatible with VR are incredibly weak compared to phones now. The processors weren’t nearly powerful enough, the temperature on the phones would overheat often and the quality of motion was good enough to get you sick every time.
With all of that being said, mobile VR could still be on the shelves, but it would still die out. With the Oculus Go only being $199 and the Oculus Quest only double that price, consumers have options for a dedicated V R headset for all of their media and gaming needs. The Oculus Quest – through Oculus Link – can be a PC VR headset as well as an on-the-go media