Ahead of CES 2016, Facebook announced through its Oculus blog that its Oculus Touch controllers will be delayed until the second half of 2016. The company will ship its Oculus Rift consumer edition gaming headset on time in Q1, with preorders launching very soon.
“On Touch hardware, we’ve made significant advances in ergonomics, and we’re implementing many changes that make Touch even more comfortable, reliable, and natural,” the blog says. “We’re also implementing changes that improve hand pose recognition.
“We’re also outputting larger numbers of pre-production runs, which means we can get a lot more Touch hardware in the hands of developers who need it.”
Greenlight VR CEO Clifton Dawson believes this delay may benefit consumers, as it gives Oculus extra time to make the Touch more comfortable and reliable in recognizing interactions.
“The delays also allow Oculus more time for developers to begin testing and creating experiences with them,” Dawson says. “Oculus has been very vocal in their desire to ‘get it right,’ and we’ve seen other hardware manufacturers and VR experience developers make similar decisions in delaying their product release cycles.”
HTC (HTC) delayed the consumer launch of the Vive headset from 2015 to April 2016, which means Oculus Rift will beat it to market.
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Because Facebook (FB) partnered with Microsoft (MSFT) to include an Xbox One controller in every Oculus Rift Consumer Edition box, consumers will be able to interact with games, 360-degree video, and other content right away.
Dawson says the Oculus Touch controller is of very high strategic value for the company because the Touch can be integral to how consumers define what virtual reality is and how it differs from other mediums.
Facebook has yet to announce an exact launch date or price point, as the company is in a position to wait for HTC to confirm those things for the Vive.
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Gene Munster, senior research analyst at Piper Jaffray, believes that Facebook’s deep pocketbook could help Oculus subsidize the pricing of Oculus.
“If Oculus is a platform for the next 20 years, it makes sense to give up on profitability in years one to three and give consumers subsidized hardware pricing,” Munster says.
Dawson expects the price points for Oculus Rift and Oculus Touch to be on the higher end of the spectrum, somewhere between $399 and $599.
“Prices above this level will most certainly affect early sales, but fortunately Facebook has the ability to optimize decisions for the long term rather than near-term profitability,” Dawson says.
Facebook is demonstrating Oculus Touch and new virtual reality experiences at CES this week.