The Oculus Rift's first announcement sparked a lot of imaginations, and the earliest results of people trying out the developers' kits did likewise. The potential for home-based virtual reality was becoming real. As time started to stretch out, though, the market started to grow, and competitors emerged. Now, with Oculus Rift set to arrive in the early stages of next year, it will arrive in the midst of a market approaching maturity.
Samsung (News - Alert)'s Gear VR, for example, is set to be a major competitor thanks to its massive install base with Samsung devices. Those without Samsung phones may, unfortunately, be unlikely to buy either. However, for users who already have a Samsung smartphone, a Gear VR is a much more natural purchase than an Oculus Rift and has significant advantage in being more portable.
Moreover, Sony's PlayStation VR system will service PlayStation 4 gamers, and given that there are many more PlayStation 4 gamers than Xbox One gamers—Sony's been beating Microsoft (News - Alert) routinely in device sales for the last several months, though Microsoft still has a sound install base—that could be another chunk of the market lost to Oculus Rift.
There may even be some issues on the software front. Developers are said to be having a tough time finding a collective stride and bringing out the kind of games that users will want to play. Several options have been made available already and look impressive, but getting these games beyond the gimmick stage may prove difficult.
What's more, we also have to be concerned about issues beyond games. When Mark Zuckerberg (News - Alert) made the move to purchase Oculus Rift with Facebook, he expounded on its potential as an education tool, as a travel analogue, as a way to see all the world's greatest sights without ever leaving the house. We must see these options developed to determine demand, and that all depends on the Oculus Rift's own release. It's going to have to impress from the outset, and that's going to take some substantial marketing. Given Facebook (News - Alert)'s incredible marketing prowess, however, that may not be so difficult.
With the Oculus Rift set to be released in the first quarter of 2016, many of these questions will start to develop answers. We'll get to see the use cases, and how the Rift can better interact with a market that already has options to consider.
Edited by Kyle Piscioniere
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