More than just the latest in a long line of niche gadgets, Oculus Go represents the linchpin of Facebook’s lofty goal of putting one billion people into virtual reality. Built with the new or casual user in mind, the device’s non-intimidating tether-free design and Snapdragon 821 mobile processor (which will be two years old in August) manage to keep costs low and user-friendliness high.

Guest Article by J.C. Kuang

J.C. serves as an Analyst at Greenlight Insights in the Devices Group. He has more than three years of experience in market research and analysis and has delivered custom consultancy and presentations for global companies covering ideation, roadmap validation, market sizing, disruptive strategy, and competitor analysis, among other areas. He is based in Boston, Massachusetts.

An improved fresnel lens design addresses a major complaint of Rift owners regarding negative experiences with lens flare, while built-in stereo speakers eliminate the need to fiddle with headphones after fitting the headset—an inconvenience of the Go’s precursor, Gear VR. The headset is also offered with two tiers of non-expandable flash storage (at 32 and 64 GB).

SEE ALSO
Oculus Go Review: Standalone VR Priced for the Masses

The Go is being lauded by journalists and hardware critics as a major milestone in VR hardware, set to drive adoption to new highs. In contrast to higher-end standalone VR headsets, such as HTC’s Vive Focus and Lenovo’s Mirage Solo, the Go is largely unopposed at its low price point of $200, and has drawn interest from mainstream media outlets as a result. While it lacks an important feature offered by its competitors, 6DoF tracking, the Go represents an otherwise tempting alternative to its pricier competitors, which have not been received as favorably.

Consumer Perceptions

Initial consumer impressions of Oculus’ overall user experience are positive, according to consumer reviews at online retailers and first impressions from early adopter forums.

A lack of native media apps (such as YouTube) remains a going concern for owners of multiple headsets, who are most aware of the fragmentation currently plaguing VR content pipelines. Meanwhile, high build quality, an intuitive and hassle-free interface, and support for multimedia apps (from major players such as Netflix and Hulu, to more focused platforms such as Plex and Bigscreen), have been consistently popular among buyers. In fact, usage as a portable multimedia device was the most cited use case amongst online user reviews.

Criticisms have been levelled against the headset’s short battery life and a lack of expandable storage. These are noticeable areas where traditional tethered VR excels over the Go (having access to virtually limitless power and storage via a connected gaming PC). Oculus’s own offering, the Rift, has played a major role in setting these expectations for VR usage patterns in the first place. Presumably, these criticisms are of least concern to the company since their other hardware addresses these issues.

SEE ALSO
China's Oculus Go Variant Sells Out in Minutes, 50,000+ Await More Stock

The Go relies on a wireless connection to a smartphone for high-level content management, as well as privacy and login functions to ensure fast and functional connection to the Oculus platform. This connection naturally has deep integration with Facebook, which has sparked some infrequent criticisms regarding privacy. While these criticisms are less common among consumers, the persistent uneasiness surrounding privacy at Oculus’ parent company does little to help assuage them.

Greenlight Insights’ annual VR/AR consumer survey revealed some insights surrounding the release of the Go.

  • Approximately 1 month before release, Oculus’ new headset had low aided brand awareness* among all respondents (36%) when compared to the Rift headset during a similar period (42%).
  • Non-owners of VR headsets reached a low of 28% aided brand awareness*. This data point presents a particularly glaring weakness in the company’s marketing for the Go, which is aimed squarely at onboarding new users to VR.

* “Aided brand awareness” refers to consumer knowledge of a specific brand or product, after being prompted. Might be measured with a question such as “How familiar are you with Oculus?” as opposed to “Can you list three VR headset brands?”

Now that the Go has been available for two and a half months, Greenlight Insights has gathered data from major US electronics retailers showing how customers have received the Go and other standalone headsets, algonside high-end tethered headsets for comparison.

The Future of Go & Standalones

Up until Oculus’ 2017 developer conference, hardware initiatives from HTC, Oculus, and other leading headset makers prioritized highly detailed and demanding AAA experiences which capitalized on the novelty of VR. The Go meanwhile represents an intelligent pivot from traditional VR design philosophy, which often sacrifices accessibility for immersion. Oculus has set a new goal that focuses on adoption and onboarding as opposed to hardware brinkmanship. This trend is poised to continue as HTC and Lenovo’s standalone offerings populate higher price points on the market.

Sales of all three new standalone headsets through Q3-Q4 ‘18 will be crucial in gauging adoption rates over the next 5 years. We expect that global standalone revenues will grow from over $350 million in 2018 to $3.2 billion in 2022. This growth will be due in part to a previously untapped market that neither smartphone-based nor tethered headsets can serve: new users with no additional computing hardware. This factor will only become more compelling as content, hardware, and usability improve over time. The overall global VR industry will benefit from this growth as well; we anticipate it will grow from just under $9 billion in 2018 to $48 billion in 2022.

The impact of standalone headsets on the global VR market is becoming more and more apparent with the release of competing hardware from formidable foreign OEMs, such as the Lenovo Mirage Solo and HTC Vive Focus, each bringing with it it’s own development and distribution platforms. As new displays, sensors, and processors (such as the upcoming Snapdragon XR1 which is specially designed for low cost standalone headsets) begin to show up in subsequent iterations of standalone headsets, hardware markets will begin to expand to accomodate a much larger sector of this new, accessible form of virtual reality. Further insights into current and future VR markets can be found in the the semi-annual Virtual Reality Industry Report, published by Greenlight Insights in collaboration with Road to VR. The report contains forecasts and in-depth analysis on VR hardware and solutions, including standalone headsets such as Oculus Go.

This article may contain affiliate links. If you click an affiliate link and buy a product we may receive a small commission which helps support the publication. See here for more information.


  • gothicvillas

    Current mobile VR is a poor representation of what VR is capable of. I’m afraid OculusGo and the likes may have actually alienated people instead of drawing so needed attention.

    • Banderpop

      I used to believe and say the same thing. Mobile VR was terrible! But a VR headset not being simple to pick up, put on and use within a couple of seconds is a big negative also, and Go is like a breath of fresh air in this area.

      What surprised me the most about it was that there is some degree of 6DoF in the headset. It’s based on how the neck is a pivot, so it’s limited. But it’s very effective for sat down experiences, which is ideal for people in small rooms or other confined spaces where there may not be room for a gaming PC, console or large screen, let alone space to walk about.

      • GunnyNinja

        There is no linear translation in the Go, that is your brain fooling you.

      • R FC

        There is no translational movement tracking in the 3DOF headset; there is a simple skeletal model mounted off the rotational tracking.

        I’ve spent a lot of the past year doing R&D with untethered 3DOF headsets including Daydream, GearVR and more recently Go. Very recently it’s been 6DOF Focus and Mirage Solo although both are somewhat crippled by 3DOF controller tracking

        You can test this function in the 3DOF headsets by trying to move forward in an open application with a nearfield object; you will see your entire viewsphere shift with you, rather than you moving towards the object as you experience with translational tracking. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/2ba50c2570c46d56a717af4d5aaa25b3b6d62adba2383dea231a5adf112b7ddb.jpg

        • Banderpop

          The skeletal model seems to work very well, assuming the user’s torso remains still.

          In things like the home area, turning my head, looking up and down, and tilting my head from side to side all cause a parallax effect between the menus and the background, and programs with more geometry in the foreground work even better. While leaning forwards from the waist can’t be detected, head movement alone can give a sense of scale and immersion that things like 360 degree VR videos cannot.

          In theory, with wi-fi, Bluetooth and USB connections, it should be possible to add new control options. A phone and some stickers could provide positional tracking of a similar standard to PlayStation VR and Move, while still being cheaper and with no wires. But Go has to prove it has some longevity first and foremost. I’ve only seen one advert for it so far.

        • So how was the VR PORN ? LMAO

    • Lucidfeuer

      For a device segment that hasn’t even reach the functional state of the iPhone 1 (relative to smartphones), and therefor needed to be iterated as a consumer product every year towards it, the fact that mobile headsets haven’t evolved for 3 years (save for a small bump in resolution and FOV blabla…) since the first GearVR, then of course mobile VR which was and still is the way to mass VR adoption is getting nowhere.

      I’m baffled that they still haven’t figure how to do inside-out tracking the simplest way…let alone wireless tethering with simple standard WifiAD, AV1 and mobile antenna settings amongst other already available solutions…

      That’s what happen when mediocre marketing directors and talented engineers whose job isn’t however to conceive the product, are leading the projects in these corporations…I wonder what they’re doing with all these “creative technologists” they hired, either they’re bad or as I suspect they don’t even listen to them…

      • GunnyNinja

        Saying they “haven’t figured out” how to do these things is misleading. These things all exist, so they HAVE figured them out. They simply can’t put them in a $200 device. People are complaining about the Go not being what they WANT because they have already had something better.

  • GunnyNinja

    For $200 I can play Elite Dangerous in VR with no physical connection to my PC. Once an affordable positional tracking solution is found, I’d say the future is bright for the Go…

    • benz145

      Through Bigscreen?

    • doug

      Isn’t your hotas physically connected to your pc? And why would wires even matter for a sit-down game?

      • GunnyNinja

        If that’s what you got from what I said, run with it. My keyboard and mouse are also connected…This is a VR site. Hotas isn’t REQUIRED to play this game in VR. VR is…As for wires, it doesn’t matter, but the cost to play in VR does…

        • doug

          WMR headsets work with Elite Dangerous for less than $200. Since the Oculus Go is standalone, it’ll only display a PC game running on your PC if you download and configure a patch-through app from github.

          • GunnyNinja

            I have 3 VR HMD’s in addition to the Go. The article was about the Go. I highlighted one capability of the Go. I have a Rift, Odyssey, and Vive for ED. I don’t think I said it was a better choice for it. But WMR has a higher system requirement than ED does to run on a PC. So a person could play the game in VR without having to have the minimum requirements necessary for VR.

    • DigoriePiper

      It’s already here, I spend hours playing Vendetta Online on the Go and it’s a brilliantly immersive and engaging MMORPG. I don’t miss 6dof as I’m sitting down in the living room and I can just reach down and pop the headset on for 10 minutes which invariably turns into 2 hours :) I have the same game on PC and I never play it on there because VR is so much better *and* more convenient.

  • doug

    Based on this reddit thread [https://www.reddit.com/r/oculus/comments/8jlptr/in_15_hours_we_made_6dof_go_with_antilatency/], if you get a standalone VR headset for ease of setup and don’t like the tracking performance, you can buy a $100 tracking upgrade and spend an hour on setup. If you still aren’t happy after that, you can return it all for a Vive or Rift.

  • airball

    My biggest complaint is that the battery constantly depletes even while the device is not in use. At the baseline rate I use it, that means the battery is dead every time I think to put it on. The answer seems to be “Leave it charging all the time when not in use”…

    • Get Schwifty!

      I have to agree… I think overall the Go! is a nice casual VR consumer level product but the charging solution is a holdup. OTOH, I think it is very good at doing what it does… the question is when there are no demos available why do people think it will take off? I bought mine at BestBuy and there was no clear demo available, with a technology that must be experienced to get people in it’s amazing to me that demos are this difficult to come by for the average person (and I am not in that group)… but this is what it takes to get people in.

  • fuyou2

    Another door stopper! junk

  • Smokey_the_Bear

    Meh, don’t care about it. I’ll just keep waiting until Oculus Connect in late September, which is when they will likely reveal the launch date of Santa Cruz…which is hopefully launched at the event. That is the only VR headset that has my interest.

    • My thoughts as well. It seems the rumors are that it will be based on a NVIDIA TX2 and some form of stereo SLAM solution. If this is the case, the performance will be very good since my testing of TX1 using a Shield TV was 2-3 times the performance of Snapdragon 821. However, this kind of performance will require a large Li-ION (or supplement power source) to allow for decent play time. I am also hoping the 6DOF controller and/or tracking will also be included. Final hope is a price of $500 or less.

  • Peter Hansen

    The fact that there is no YouTube for Oculus Go (or Gear VR for that matter) is a state that should be banned by law.

    It is a video platform with a monetization system that is self-sufficient. Let the people use your platform by whatever means they like, for f**k’s sake.

    And if you want to sell VR headsets, then make good VR headset. Period. If they are good, they will be bought. :)

    This crappy greedy walled garden bullshit needs to be illegal.

  • Sponge Bob

    Well, for sitting in armchair or lying down on a couch VR experience at home (a very sizable portion of all use cases for VR in the near future) you can get by without 6Dof headset tracking – 3Dof will do it well enough if yo u don’t move around

    But GO has a useless 3DoF controller too

    Tried it and it is useless just like Gear VR

    Pairing Xbox controller to GO might be a much better deal to go with

  • dk
  • Muzufuzo

    Truth is, mobile VR is hardly of any use until it can be controlled directly from user’s brain. There is no good way for implementing sufficient control system otherwise. Give it at least 20 years. For now it’s just a gimmick, a toy.

  • VERBOSITY !!!!!! Wow, you sure use a lot of words just to say, ” It’s affordable, untethered, decent FOV, so the Oculus Go should sell better “.