Samsung’s grand virtual reality vision has blown up in its face. More to the point: with the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 spontaneously combusting, Samsung’s VR plans have metaphorically blown up in the company’s face before they literally did so.
the cursed phone
In the narrowest of senses, this is a good news story. Oculus has disabled Galaxy Note 7 support before anything truly awful happened with the truly awful phone. That is consumer protection at work. When you hold a piece of technology close to your face—in a vice-like mechanism strapped to your face, to pick one random example—you want to make sure things won’t go south. Per The Verge, this is the message you get if you try to hook up the cursed phone to one of Oculus’ devices:
Customer safety is Oculus’ top priority. Oculus is removing support for all Note 7 devices on the Oculus platform. Until further notice, Note7 devices will not be compatible with the Gear VR. For more information regarding the Note7, please contact Samsung directly.
Good on Oculus for using its position to encourage good practices in the rest of the VR ecosystem. At some later point, we might want to discuss whether this power is potentially coercive, but for now it is basically being used for good.
That said, this is broadly a depressing story. Technology not working will, for the foreseeable future, always be a negative story when it comes to VR. That may seem obvious, but creating a sufficient number of options to avoid this sort of malfunction being big news is an important goal for the future. At present, however, the Note7 malfunction isn’t just bad news for Samsung but virtual reality in general.
Basically, everything about this story blows.