Facebook’s Oculus teaming with Samsung for mobile virtual reality push

Originally published July 24, 2014

By Ian Sherr

Oculus VR made its name building high-end virtual reality headsets for the living room, but it’s leaving mobile to the other guys.

The virtual reality pioneer, which Facebook finished purchasing for $2 billion earlier this week, is working with Samsung Electronics on a headset that uses mobile devices to create a VR experience, people familiar with the matter say.

Both companies stand to benefit widely from working together: Samsung gains access to Oculus’s software and specialized hardware to help build its own virtual reality headset for mobile devices. Meanwhile, Oculus gains access to Samsung’s manufacturing expertise and help as it develops a headset for consumers. In addition, working with the Korean titan will allow Oculus to introduce virtual reality to many more consumers than it otherwise would be able to reach.

The current prototypes are being shipped by Samsung to developers, people familiar with the matter say, and so far it appears they can’t make enough to meet demand. Financial considerations between the two companies, how the final product will be unveiled and marketed, which company’s names will appear on them, and in what order, are still unclear.

Samsung and Oculus declined to comment.

Oculus and Samsung working together offers an important mutual benefit: the potential to outmaneuver competitors.

For Samsung, a head-mounted virtual reality device would help to differentiate its products from devices like Apple’s iPhone with headline-grabbing new functionality.

For Oculus, a mobile version of its software running on smartphones would reach a wider audience, cementing it as a leader for VR in any form.