The Oculus Rift is heading to consumer hands in Q1 of 2016, but that won’t be the first official consumer VR hardware launch that Oculus takes part in: Oculus’ VP of Product Nate Mitchell told me backstage at Disrupt NY that it is indeed still on track to deliver a consumer Gear VR unit in conjunction with Samsung, timed for later this year.
Mitchell confirmed that those plans are still in place, as Oculus CTO John Carmack originally mentioned on stage back in March. He wouldn’t specify which device in particular is receiving the consumer-focused Gear VR, since Samsung clearly doesn’t want any of that spilling out early, but it’s very likely we’ll see it alongside the next Galaxy Note smartphone.
Combined with news that we’ll be able to start pre-ordering Oculus Rift headsets in the later half of this year, Oculus is moving into the consumer market in a strong way across all fronts, which could provide benefits in terms of public awareness and initial content availability from third-party partners.
Oculus and Samsung currently offer Gear VR Innovator Edition headsets for both the Samsung Galaxy S6 (which is launching Thursday) and the Galaxy Note 4, but these are described as devices aimed at developers and early adopter enthusiast customers. Presumably, the forthcoming hardware’s broader consumer focus will mean it brings performance improvements, as well as perhaps changes on the Oculus and Samsung first-party software side of the equation.