According to industry sources, Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics are planning to release new virtual reality (VR) devices early next month and late this year, respectively. Both of the two upcoming products are likely to be high-spec products interworking with PCs.
Samsung Electronics’ new device is HMD Odyssey, which was developed in cooperation with Microsoft. It is characterized by having two 3.5-inch AM OLED displays. In addition, it comes with an AKG headphone, a built-in microphone and a controller equipped with tilt and rotation sensors.
LG Electronics is currently developing a high-performance VR headset with American game developer Valve Corporation, which runs the Steam as the largest online game platform in the world. The headset is expected to be a standalone VR device better in image quality than smartphone-based VR headsets and requiring no wire connection.
The global augmented reality (AR) and VR market is expected to show a triple-digit growth this year. The size of the VR device market, in particular, is estimated to reach US$6.7 billion. At present, the mainstream is products with moderate prices that are linked to smartphones. Last year, approximately 6.3 million customers bought VR devices of Samsung Electronics, Oculus, Sony, HTC, Google and so on.
The Samsung Gear VR accounted for 71.6% of the market during the period by recording a sales volume of 4.5 million units. It was followed by Sony Playstation VR (750,000 units, 12.5%), HTC Vive (420,000, 6.7%), Google Daydream VR (260,000, 4.1%) and Oculus Rift (240,000, 3.8%).
In the first quarter of this year, budget products with no screen like Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream View accounted for more than two-thirds of the global VR device sales volume. The HTC Vive is currently the most expensive VR device in the market. It comes with a wireless VR controller, room-scale movement, a head-mounted display equipped with a built-in camera and so on. Its price in South Korea was recently adjusted from 1.25 million won to 0.99 million won.
The HTC Vive requires a high-spec PC. Specifically, users need to spend about 700,000 won on their graphic cards or around two million won on their computers to use the VR device as desired. Such a high entry barrier in the high-end VR device market is likely to be lowered over time based on technological development and an increase in VR content supply.
This is why Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics are concentrating on the high-end VR device market. Samsung Electronics released the Gear VR in December 2014 with Oculus. The 2017 version of the mobile VR device has the same performance as that released at that time but a controller has been added to the latest version. The Gear VR can be used only with certain Samsung smartphones. It has been said that the device is more economical than PC-based VR devices and VR consoles but its quality is unsatisfactory.
“As of now, HTC Vive and Facebook Oculus are the two most popular PC-based VR devices in the world,” said an industry source, adding, “However, things can change after LG Electronics and Samsung Electronics, which have advanced technology and produce displays on their own, enter the market.”