Samsung Cautious Regarding Plans for All-in-One VR Headset

Samsung president/chief strategy officer Young Sohn clarified that, although the company is actively engaged in smartphone-based VR headsets and standalone products, it’s taking a wait-and-see stance with regard to developing and shipping a dedicated all-in-one device. More specifically, says Sohn, the company is waiting to see where the virtual reality market is going, and if often clunky headsets click with users. Earlier, Sohn had confirmed the company was looking at developing a standalone headset.

TechCrunch says Samsung is looking specifically at where the market goes — and what form factor to pursue. “Is [virtual reality] hype or mainstream?” asks Sohn, who said that the industry is “at the peak of its hype cycle.”

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“I don’t have a good answer for you today.” He adds that, because the all-in-one headset isn’t yet a going concern, “there’s a bit of a chicken and egg problem right now.”

With over one million Samsung Galaxy and Note owners using the Samsung Gear VR headset, priced at $99, “Samsung is currently one of the largest manufacturers of mobile VR headsets.” Many of those owners, however, didn’t pay for the headsets but received them as a pre-order promotion. Samsung’s involvement in VR extends to signing up to become one of Google’s Daydream first partners, for which it will likely ship a mobile headset.

Sohn also refers to the list of improvements needed for next-generation VR products: better battery efficiency and latency as well as pixel densities “at least two times” that of current displays. Resolution is of special importance. Although Samsung’s Galaxy and Note QuadHD displays “may be more than adequate for regular smartphone usage,” the same display on a Gear VR headset is less than ideal.

Sohn says his company plans to “move faster” in building next-generation displays for VR, but also notes that a 10K mobile display would cost “at least $5 billion to $10 billion” to develop. OpnWatr chief executive Mary Lou Jepsen mentioned that her company is making “efforts on an unconfirmed 11K mobile display.”

Whereas some believe that “the move toward all-in-one is a necessary evolution” for the VR industry, Samsung is not alone in putting its plans on hold. TechCrunch reports that, “Intel and Qualcomm have both shown off reference designs for all-in-one VR devices but are not looking to immediately market these devices to consumers.”