When it comes to sales figures, Oculus VR doesn’t play its cards close to its chest so much as press them against it and tape them down. This week, however, the company has given some indication of how Gear VR is performing.
At an Oculus Mobile update event in San Francisco, California, Max Cohen, Head of Mobile at Oculus, confirmed that its smartphone-based device, made in partnership with Samsung, saw one million users last month. That’s a hugely impressive number and comes as something of a surprise this early on into the kit’s life, having only launched for consumers back in November 2015. It’s not clear if this data includes the Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy S6 Innovator Editions that released beforehand, though it’s very like that it does.
Note that Oculus was still vague on specifics; this doesn’t mean that a million Gear VRs have been sold, it likely means that a million phones used one in April, or something along those lines. There are plenty of ways this number could be boosted, the most obvious being that there’s no limit to how many phones can be used with one unit. It’s very possible that one Gear VR could be assigned to multiple phones within a household, for example. Providing that each of them had an Oculus ID, each would likely count as one of those individual users.
That said, there have been some recent promotions that would suggest Gear VR has had a big bump in its install base. The biggest of these was Oculus and Samsung’s move to offer free units to those that pre-ordered the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge before it went on sale earlier this year. It was a bold move to help give mobile VR the kick-start it needed, and it seems to have paid off. Combine that with a handful of price cuts on the already small $99 tag, and the fact that there’s already some great content, some of which is designed to be experience with other people, on the device and there’s been plenty of reason to pick up a Gear of late.
The big question is where Gear VR goes from here. There are rumours that Samsung’s next phablet device, the unannounced Galaxy Note 6, might feature a new type of USB port that would necessitate a new version of the Gear VR being released. There’s also strong demand for the inclusion of positional tracking within the device, a subject that Oculus VR’s own John Carmack feels very strongly about. Finally, Samsung itself has confirmed its working on its own dedicated VR HMD, which might not be made in partnership with Oculus.
Gear VR is definitely approaching an interesting crossroad, but at least it’s on stable footing until it gets there.