Amidst the commotion throughout the tech industry caused by Google’s latest hardware event, there are still lots of questions left for the VR industry at large. How will they respond to Apple’s powerful push into AR, and to Samsung’s continued dominance over the mobile VR market? Will big players divide their efforts or focus on a single form of XR? Is Daydream a major player?
The most important factor in forecasting the market performance of the View is, of course, the Pixel. As many have pointed out, the Daydream platform had very few compatible phones, and those that were available were neither very popular or easy to purchase. Indeed, Apple’s recent bunker-busting crusade into AR for the masses seems both attainable and practical considering the amount of handsets it has already sold which will be able to run iOS 11 and ARKit (around 4-500 million).
Unlike the Pixel, however, the Daydream View was not particularly in focus at this week’s event, and for good reason; hardware has yet to ship (which is to say we don’t know for sure if Google has rectified the supply chain issues that plagued the original Pixel), and content on the ground appears scarce if the current Daydream marketplace is any indication. This is especially apparent when compared to all the new offerings from ARCore. It’s safe to say then, that Google is playing their cards quite close to the chest, and their plans hinge more on the as-yet-unseen standalone headsets being produced by partners HTC and Lenovo.
These new headsets will be the true flagships of the Daydream platform, and their performance in the market will be the best possible indicator of whether or not standalone headsets are a viable product in current markets. Samsung has demonstrated definitively that mobile VR appears, at least for now, to provide a quality experience for all but the most hardcore VR users. Hardcore fans meanwhile have been forced to bear the steep onboarding costs of PC-based VR. If Google can achieve a competitive price point with the flagship Daydream devices however, it could signal a dramatic shift of demanding mobile-VR users and cash-strapped PC VR users towards a new, more accessible method of experiencing XR.
Google’s AR/VR head Clay Bavor is optimistic about Google’s position, maintaining that Daydream sales figures remain “in line with our expectations” (rough estimates are somewhere in the range of 50,000). However, even if excitement for the Daydream View remains as lukewarm as last year’s, the new headsets could be the differentiating factor that keeps Google in the race.