Nokia’s Ozo VR camera now more affordable, heading to China

Nokia has reduced the price of its high-end VR camera Ozo by $15,000. The new global price-tag for the teardrop-shaped device, which captures 360° spherical video and 360×360 surround sound to create immersive content for viewing via virtual reality devices, is $45,000.

Nokia is also expanding availability of Ozo, announcing it will be launching in the Chinese market — taking pre-orders from next month with a scheduled ship date of October. It’s partnering with Chinese online video company LeEco in the market, to distribute Ozo content via its VR division, LeVR.

Ozo was unveiled by Nokia last December, with a $60,000 pre-order price-tag and a ship date of Q1, initially targeting the US and European markets. The camera is aimed at professional content makers such as filmmakers and broadcasters wanting to expand their output into a nascent format — with Nokia pushing for a first mover advantage in the professional production VR space.

It’s not breaking out any sales data for Ozo but couches the price cut as an “aggressive move” to drive penetration globally and “advance the Virtual Reality business” — so it seems safe to assume the market for high end VR cameras has yet to catch fire.

There’s a clear chicken and egg problem with VR at this nascent stage, with content producers needing an installed base of VR users to be incentivized to make content, yet consumers needing to be convinced of the worth of buying a VR headset by seeing compelling content… Cheaper pro camera hardware to produce more compelling VR content to drive general consumer interest is Nokia’s thinking here.

Back in April Facebook, which owns the Oculus Rift VR headset maker, also announced an open source design for a virtual reality camera, called “Surround 360” — with the intention of giving it away for free. The company said it would be putting the hardware designs and video stitching algorithms on Github, as it seeks to accelerate an ecosystem of content and drive sales of its Rift VR headset. All the parts for Facebook’s open source VR camera can apparently be bought online for $30,000.