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Facebook's $199 All-in-One VR Headset

Oculus Go

Facebook announces the Oculus Go, a $199 VR headset that doesn't require a PC or phone to run... The headset alone creates the VR experience.

Is this the important break that will finally bring VR to the masses?

“We want to get a billion people in virtual reality,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Facebook’s 4th Oculus Connect VR Developer Conference as he announced the new headset.

A billion is a long, long way to go. To give you an idea, Apple's iPad (now considered a mature market) sold 11.42 million units in just Q3.

Compare that to 4 years of VR history, Gear VR has shipped only about 5 million units, PlayStation VR has sold 1 million headsets by mid-2017, and Google’s Daydream app has been installed on barely 1 million phones.

Zuckerberg's dream asks for an increase that's not 2X, not 10X but almost 100X more than today's reality.

In Q2, AR/VR market grew 25.5% on the year (2.1M shipments), according to IDC. Samsung led with 568K units and a 26.7% market share with Sony in second and Facebook coming third with an 11.6% share and 246.9K units.

Yet, despite the double-digit growth, all the predictions for 2017 said this year should have been the year of the has been introduced to the cold, clammy bottom of the tech hype cycle, Gartner's famous portrayal of how new technology first inspires, then frustrates the industry developing it.

Discouraged developers have recently said it would take years (and possibly another generation of hardware) for it to approach mass adoption. They cited a combination of cost, inconvenience, and a shortage of good content on all platforms.

Nokia just shuttered its OZO VR camera business.

And CEO Tim Cook told British press that Apple has no near-term plans to release AR/VR reality technology, “I can tell you that the technology itself doesn't exist to do that in a quality way."

Those disappointments make the Oculus Go an even more important introduction. It's a big jump in value-for-money compared to the competitors. Sony’s PlayStation VR costs $349.99 for the headset alone. Samsung’s Gear VR costs $129 for the headset and a controller-- but a user needs a compatible smartphone.

A standalone VR headset, Oculus Go comes with an orientation-tracked controller. The headset is lightweight with new fabric (for the facial It comes with a high-res fast-switch LCD screen with a resolution of 2560×1440 pixels, a wide field of view, and integrated headphones. It ships with a handheld controller.

Oculus Go is compatible with software developed for Gear VR. Whether a developer builds with Unity or Unreal, or codes directly to Oculus Mobile SDK, they can target both Oculus Go and Gear VR with a single application.

The announcement of Oculus Go comes with one more benefit: now the tethered Oculus Rift (bundle with headset and controllers) drops to $399 (the same $100-off price from the summer sale).

The Oculus Go will ship globally in early 2018 and--even if it doesn't create the billion-unit-market that Zuckerberg hopes for--it could push Facebook to the front of the VR market.

Go Oculus Go