Oculus Rift Founder Implies The Rift Probably Won't Launch in 2015
Most of us have already gotten excited about the upcoming release of the Oculus Rift at the end of this year, as the Rift's founder, Palmer Luckey, has been quoted as saying that something would have to go "horribly wrong" for the Rift not to be released in 2015.
Apparently, Luckey recently recanted that statement after being questioned by a panel at the South by Southwest (SXSW) conference in Austin, Texas. Early on in the conference he was upfront about the fact that Oculus had "nothing to announce" in regard to the Rift's release date. Previous rumours pointed to a likely release date in late 2015, but now it looks as if the company is taking the slow-and-steady route instead.
Things Going "Horribly Right," Rift Ramping Up for a Stronger Commercial Debut
Even as Oculus continues to withhold an exact release date, Palmer says that the ongoing postponing of the consumer version is not being caused by anything going horribly wrong, but that things are actually going "horribly right." Luckey elaborated:
“I did say that," [things would have to go "horribly wrong" for Rift's release date to drift past 2015], "but that was before we made a lot of changes to our roadmap.” In addition to "partnering with Facebook," the changes he was referring to mainly consisted of improving the consumer version before launching it into a sector that has quickly become highly competitive, with alternatives like Sony's Project Morpheus, Microsoft's HoloLens, and HTC's Vive.
While the Oculus Rift may be the project that initially rekindled an interest in VR in the mainstream, attracting a $2 billion acquisition from Facebook, it is no longer competing with only itself, so there's an underlying pressure for the company's flagship product to perform well and pack a punch that will compete with what Sony, Microsoft, HTC and others are putting together.
Does This Mean We'll Have to Wait Until 2015 for VR?
Luckily, Palmer Luckey's Oculus Rift is not our only hope for a consumer virtual reality device in 2015. Oculus has partnered with Samsung to create the Samsung Gear VR, an attachment accessory for the Galaxy Note. Aside from that, it looks as if the Oculus Rift will be released later than two of its primary competitors - Microsoft's HoloLens (slated for late 2015) and Sony's Project Morpeus (slated for early 2016).
Letting Consumers Get Comfortable with VR from Familiar Brands First?
While this presumption hasn't been directly addressed, one has to wonder whether the delay is a strategic move from the staff at Oculus and Facebook: postpone the launch until after the competition "shoots first," in order to give consumers the chance to become acquainted with virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR) devices through household names like Sony, Microsoft, and HTC.
Owner of Oculus, Facebook, has it's own reputation as one of the world's largest social networks, but consumers aren't used to buying devices from Facebook, let alone the Oculus brand, which will be releasing the Rift as its debut product.
It makes sense that the advent into VR would be more readily accepted by society when introduced by brand names that consumers are used to buying from. Waiting for the competition may break the ice and lessen the burden on the Oculus Rift's launch, while simultaneously and perhaps more importantly, allowing developers the time to create more great content for the Rift.
Giving Developers Time to Ramp Up the Rift's Content Library
We all know that Sony (maker of the PlayStation series) and Microsoft (maker of of the Xbox series) both have their fair share of deals with developers and game creators, and both companies have obtained plenty of experience compiling huge content libraries for multiple generations of gaming consoles. With that said, Oculus and Facebook are going to have to work hard to build a similar library of content tailored for the Rift. Still, it is likely that Facebook's involvement will lead to the development of a whole list of social apps that will be available on the Rift but not on competing devices like the Morpheus or HoloLens.
If you'd like to learn more about Palmer's discussion with the panelists at SXSW, check out the full broadcast here.