The Korea Herald


Samsung Gear VR sees strong start in U.S.

Global tech, game firms jumping onto VR bandwagon

By 김영원

Published : Nov. 23, 2015 - 18:01

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Samsung Electronics’ new Gear VR virtual reality goggles are getting an upbeat response in the U.S. as the device has already sold out at some online retailers such as Amazon and Best Buy in just 10 days of its launch.

The $99 Gear VR is a stripped-down version of the Gear VR Innovator Edition, the Korean tech giant’s first generation VR headset that is priced at $199. The device weighs only 310 grams, about 22 percent lighter than its predecessor.
A model tries the Gear VR at a launching event. (Samsung Electronics) A model tries the Gear VR at a launching event. (Samsung Electronics)

Refusing to unveil the number of shipments in the U.S., a Samsung spokesperson said “the gadget will be released in the Korean market this month.” The company has also started receiving preorders in Europe.

“We are delighted with the overwhelmingly positive response that the Gear VR has received from reviewers and eager buyers alike,” the company said in a statement.

On Saturday when shipping began, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also touted the new device, a collaboration between its own Oculus and Samsung, saying, “Today is a historic day for virtual reality.”

Industry watchers predict that the device sales could gain further momentum in the coming weeks as the year-end holiday shopping season is nearing and more launches are planned for other markets.

“It is too early to tell, but Samsung appears to be successful in its efforts to seek new growth engines with new businesses such as VR and mobile payment,” a market official said.

Samsung is also pouring resources into expanding its mobile payment system Samsung Pay.

The company acquired U.S.-based mobile payment system provider LoopPay to equip the contactless mobile payment technology in its high-end smartphones, including the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy Note 5.

Since its launch in August, Samsung Pay has seen over 1 million subscribers and 100 billion won ($86.3 million) in transactions in Korea.

Companies across industries are paying a great deal of attention to the futuristic VR technology, including mobile carrier SK Telecom and online game developer Nexon.

Early this year, Nexon’s vice president Lee Jeong-hoon said, “VR is a hot issue in the game industry. Nexon has been developing VR games for quite some time,” and will make announcements on the projects in due time.

Sony and Microsoft’s own VR gadgets -- PlayStation VR and HoloLens, respectively -- are also expected to hit the shelves next year.

Aiming to regain its past glory in the gaming industry, Sony showcased its VR technology -- which can be paired with its game console PlayStation -- at tech and game trade shows and has been garnering positive market reviews.

By Kim Young-won (