As the vehicle by which the headset is made functional, the delivery device is truly the lynchpin to the fulfillment of VR’s potential. Thus, the question of “which” of the current delivery device manufacturers will emerge as the first to develop a comprehensive VR ecosystem is extremely important.
There is really only one company, perfectly positioned to not only influence, but define VR for the next century, and beyond. From an historical standpoint, they would not be the first. Edison and Ford can be said to have “influenced [a] century” or more of the industries that they helped to create. This is that kind of moment, like the introduction of electric light and automobiles (see Figure 5).
And that title…
Must belong to…
Two reasons: their commercial and consumer product portfolios. Without even trying, they have an end-to-end, VR solution in prototype:
Experience in all of the industries needed to realize immersive VR?
Just like the good old days of BetaMax, Sony has an opportunity to rule the world of home-media consumption. But that’s not all. This isn’t the 80’s and there can be no doubt that VR is poised to have a far greater impact on society and culture than the little cassette that didn’t (see Figure 6). In a recent NYT article, entitled, “Tech’s ‘Frightful 5’ Will Dominate Digital Life for Foreseeable Future,” I was shocked to find the list did not include Sony. But who else has a comprehensive understanding of all of the variables that compose the VR experience: optics, audio, media production and distribution, etc., and the in-house, manufacturing muscle to churn out every piece of the puzzle; a puzzle that they design?
Not Google, not Apple, not Amazon, not Microsoft, and sorry Zuck, not FB.
Sony is not three, but a dozen virtual steps ahead of everyone else. And to top it all off, they produce one of the most advanced and popular delivery devices ever made: the Playstation 4.
Thus, from a hardware and software perspective, they have no equal. The race to VR dominance is Sony’s to lose, and lose it they could. The BetaMax will forever be remembered as one of the most embarrassing corporate missteps in the history of video technology. That Sony could have held total mastery over the video-media industry is a bit of a legend, but no one would argue that they wasted a monumental opportunity to define the market.
So could they blow it…again?
Yeah, they could. But I have to believe that Sony has learned, and learned well, from their past mistakes. To not take advantage of the extraordinary luck that has placed them at the leading edge of the VR revolution would not be a repeat of the BetaMax fiasco, it would likely be considered one of the greatest corporate fails of the 21st century. My guess is that they would prefer to avoid that title. Time will tell.
But what about the PC as a VR delivery device? Isn’t it a better option because of its upgradeability and increased power? It would seem that one of the ancillary effects of the VR revolution is how it changes this very question. No longer is the point of contention, “which is the best gaming platform?” In the context of VR, the issues surrounding the battle between PC and Console become much more complicated. This will the be the topic of the final part of our series, From Peripheral to Preeminence: The Rise of the Video Media Console, due out next month. So, until then, may your aim be true and the blueberries, plentiful. – BOOM.
 pronounced: FuhBOCULUS
 Actually there are many components but I am referring to a high-level view of its primary mechanisms.
 Microsoft may be the only of the “frightful” that’s thinking straight. Their recent announcement seeking cross-platform, integration with Sony is a stroke of brilliance that Sony would be fools not to investigate thoroughly. Given their position in the industry, Sony has a certain amount of negotiating capital, especially when one considers their opportunities in VR.