Google’s new mobile VR ecosystem, Daydream, is one of the most talked about stories of the year, but we haven’t heard what Gear VR co-creator Oculus makes of it. So I asked.
Speaking with VP of Product Nate Mitchell at Gamescom earlier this week, I brought up the topic of Daydream, which is due to launch before the end of the year with a series of phones that meet a certain set of specifications. It’s a promising concept that introduces motion controls to mobile VR, which could make the tech more accessible than ever. It might also prove to be serious competition for Gear VR, which Oculus partnered with Samsung to create.
Mitchell, however, doesn’t seem fazed.
When I asked him how Gear VR would fit into the new landscape, he replied “I think the question is really how does Daydream compete with Gear VR?”
He noted that much of Google’s new ecosystem remained shrouded in mystery, while touching on the fact that Gear VR had seen more than a million users over the course of a month in 2016.
“I think that Gear VR is also going to be far and away the best mobile VR experience out there,” he said, adding that he thought it would remain that way for a long time.
“I mean, if you look at the investments we make with Samsung, with some of the hardware partners that build those chipsets for the phones, a lot of innovation happening and the reality is that we can focus on building a super high quality VR experience on this device because there are only so many phones we have to support,” Mitchell continued. “If you look at what Google’s going to have to do, it’s going to be much, much harder.”
In the Oculus co-founder’s opinion, Google might struggle with the diverse nature of the Android ecosystem hat Daydream sits on top of. Specifically, he thinks fragmentation could be an issue.
“I think for the most part that they’re going focus on OLED devices so that will shrink the number of phones that they have to support,” he said. “But they’ve got a bunch of challenges there and, again, they’re going to be launching for their first time.”
It’s a valid concern, but Google does have one ace up its sleeve when it comes to the Gear VR rivalry: its own partnership with Samsung. It looks like the Korean electronics giant will be making a Daydream approved phone in the future, and possibly even another VR headset.
“I don’t know what exactly Samsung is going to do is the truth, and we’ll see where they land with Daydream,” Mitchell said in response to that point. “Our partnership with Samsung has never been stronger and we’ll have more announcements around that and how that’s been evolving around OC3 timeframe.”