Google has Glass. Facebook bought Oculus. Sony announced Project Morpheus. And Microsoft is probably building Xbox glasses as we speak. Every big company seems to be working on a video headset of some sort.
Now, according to an Engadget report, Samsung–the world’s largest technology company–will be releasing a virtual reality headset later this year.
Samsung is a bajillion-armed octopus that competes in every electronic category under the sun. Its involvement in virtual reality cements a trend: the war for your face is on. Why all these companies are going after this intimate real estate now is unclear. Surely, many of the technological elements, like displays, have grown both good enough and cheap enough to make headsets feasible. But is there a true need? Is there a large market or niche to fill? That’s still unknown.
Samsung differs from the other big companies because it is unclear what content or platform Samsung could plug its hardware into. Google has its own OS. Oculus has several game companies producing content along with Facebook’s social network. Sony has its Playstation 4 game console. And Microsoft, similarly, has Xbox.
Will Samsung treat its headset as a new TV or monitor–presented as a fancy piece of hardware without content? Or will the company play nice with other manufacturers in efforts to unify these headsets into some sort of standardized platform that developers can rally around?
Until there’s some level of unified experience to bridge these competitors, each headset will represent its own experience, totally disconnected from the others. Imagine if an Android phone couldn’t text an iPhone, just because one was made by Google and the other was made by Apple. That’s the headset market today (or more accurately, the near future). So even with a long line of billion-dollar companies supporting the space, it’s hard to imagine consumers taking part in the spectacle.