Does anyone remember the movie Lawnmower Man? The year 1992 gave us this little movie gem (ahem…) that showed us a possible view of the future of virtual reality. Before and since, we have seen VR developed in a variety of applications with mixed results. Google even tried its own version, calling it “augmented reality.” But even with this much interest in VR, not a single product has ever really held a promise of something bigger.
That is, until now.
The Oculus Rift launch, which was born from a Kickstarter campaign, has smart marketing and PR behind it, and it’s a pretty big deal. If you don’t know, Oculus Rift is a virtual reality headset, but differentiates itself from its predecessors in a couple of key ways. It is affordable, wearable and developers are creating content specifically for it. The brand launch should be just as exciting as the buildup, as the Oculus Rift design was unveiled this week.
The headset, shipping in early 2016, is initially aimed at the hardcore gaming community. But already more than 500 games and apps are either out or are in the process of being developed to support it. As all promising things, the real promise of Oculus Rift is something much greater.
Oculus Rift is not just about gaming, though the possibilities in gaming are enough to get a whole host of other companies into the fray. No, Oculus Rift is really about the dawning of a new mass technology.
Because content providers see such an opportunity, there is a lot excitement about the Oculus Rift, which is why Facebook bought the company for $2 billion and gamers are anxiously waiting for the product to ship. What is so interesting is that there is almost an Apple-esque excitement about its launch even though a single unit has yet to be shipped.
The future of Oculus Rift after the brand launch.
As what Apple did with the iPhone, Oculus Rift has an opportunity to change the way we think of a device. But in order to capitalize on this possibility, it also has to maintain the way it thinks of itself.
Success can bring a lot of things to a company, meaning it can satisfy a company too much and it gets defensive. I think Oculus Rift would be wise to always think of itself as that $2 million Kickstarter project, staying hungry, idealistic, and eyes wide open to what could be.
That is why people are coveting its brand today and it’s the only way it can be successful in the future. There are a lot of companies that are entering VR and it would be a shame for its initial success to be Oculus Rift’s downfall.