Taking the stage at CES doesn’t always have to mean that the only thing you’ll be doing is announcing a new product, as Samsung proved when Tim Baxter, the chief of Samsung Electronics’ US division, declared to an eager audience that their wildly successful Gear VR has thus far sold at least 5 million units. While that figure is not exactly staggering in and of itself, given the fact that virtual reality technology is in its infancy, it’s pretty impressive, and puts Samsung in a pretty firm second in the mobile VR ecosystem, right behind the iconic Google Cardboard ecosystem that started it all, and had managed to ship 5 million units by the time it had been around for a year and a half.
Baxter had more to brag about than just sales of Samsung’s flagship headset, of course; he also pointed out that some 10 million hours of video have been watched within the Gear VR ecosystem since launch, or about 2 hours per user. Considering that many a VR headset ends up stashed away and some VR headset buyers use them strictly for gaming, or even as a VR headset for PC gaming, that figure is certainly not bad. On top of that, Samsung’s Gear 360 camera brings the ability to upload 360 degree video to the masses, meaning that more content will continue to pop up faster and faster.
While the Gear VR may have eclipsed Cardboard at this point in the game by virtue of the richness of its content, to say it has a monopoly in the field of mobile VR would be remiss. This goes double with the growing popularity of Google’s new Daydream VR ecosystem, officially compatible with the Pixel handsets and Daydream View headset, though a wide range of devices can run the content unofficially, with varying degrees of success. As mobile VR continues to grow, the Oculus-powered Gear VR is poised to grow right along with it, with the way that the market stands right now. This is great for Samsung, since the Gear VR is only compatible with their own phones, but is also not a bad deal at all for VR in general; more high-quality content developers will consider mobile due to the popularity of the Gear VR, whether Daydream does well in the end or not.