It was only 6 months ago I wrote a post about the state of VR and 4 months since Tag received the Oculus Development Kit 2. Already the VR landscape has changed dramatically as big tech companies realize the potential and clamor to be the first commercially available headset. The major players to date are, Oculus, Samsung, Sony and Valve.
The latest player to enter the race, Valve, debuted the Vive at the Game Developers Conference. It claims to have completely solved the nausea that occurs when there is a “disconnect between actual physical motion and the virtual world our eyes see.” The initial reactions have been glowing, with users saying it actually bests the Oculus in many areas.
All of this competition is making for a better VR product but, as we’ve seen with the mobile industry, cutting-edge specs only get you so far. Consumers either don’t care about, or can’t keep up with, the crazy pace of technology. In other words, you’re going to need a brand to connect to these interested, curious consumers. Since the four aforementioned companies are busy soldering and beta-testing product I’m going to help out with position ideas for market dominance.
Oculus (Rift) – The eye of the people.
Oculus is the reason we’re all even talking about VR again. CEO Brendan Iribe didn’t have any intention of turning his hobby into a business…he simply pursued a deep passion for VR. Oculus could build a beautiful brand story around Brendan’s passion and the companies pioneering attitude.
And although it’s too early to tell, another differentiator could be created by leveraging its owner, Facebook, to connect people socially through the Rift. Oculus could also build partnerships with museums, schools and movie theaters since competitors seem better positioned to dominate the gaming industry.
Samsung (Gear VR) – Disconnect from reality.
Samsung has a unique opportunity to position itself as the most robust mobile VR platform. The Gear VR is different in that the display is driven by none-other-than the Galaxy Note 4. There are no wires running from the headset to a monitor/computer enabling the wearer to have an unencumbered experience. If Samsung can build an app/media market and innovate on mobility they will reap the benefits of selling more phones as well as the headset.
Valve (Vive) – For gamers only.
Valve, a company that already has a sterling reputation for creating games, game engines, and the largest PC gaming market, just dropped the bomb. They have what might be the best headset along with a unique controller solution—something VR gaming is still struggling to define. If Valve can introduce VR’s first megahit–and I think they can–it would solidify the Vive as the headset for gamers.
Sony (Project Morpheus) – Proprietary = profit?
I would have liked to see Sony partner-up with a headset manufacturer so consumers could get more bang for their buck. Instead Sony decided to launch Morpheus early and it remains to be seen if the headset will play nicely with other technology. At the end of the day, Morpheus is an accessory product and will live and die based on the success of the Playstation 4 and how well it enhances that entertainment experience.
Like every successful brand, VR purveyors need to make an emotional connection with their customers and prospects that provides a clear and defining reason to choose their VR gear over the others. And while this technology is fantastic, they need a distinct brand positioning to win the hearts of customers, or it’s Game Over on the dreaded Sea of Sameness level.
Which VR brand has the best positioning? Click here to vote.