the “anti-Apple” of mixed reality?

Samsung is ready to return to the virtual and augmented reality market. The manufacturer will not be alone and is collaborating with Qualcomm and Google to develop the “XR experiences of the future”. Targeted? Apple and its future headphones.

Samsung’s Unpacked event delivered on all its promises. This made the Galaxy S23 and the new generation of notebooks, the Galaxy Book3, official. At the end of this conference, Samsung also mentioned the merger with Google and Qualcomm. The three firms, which are already partners in the smartphone sector, want to join forces in the field of mixed reality. Still a niche market, this market is set to explode in the coming years thanks to the efforts of Meta, HTC and even Apple.

Samsung knows music

Samsung’s interest in virtual reality is not new and dates back to the mid-2010s. Ahead of its time, the South Korean manufacturer introduced the Samsung Gear VR, one of the first virtual reality headsets for the general public, in 2015. This headset is compatible with smartphones. Let’s face it, we were far from the power of Meta Quest Pro and hope to launch VR “for smartphones” fell quickly. However, the South Korean giant has not completely given up on its ideas and seems ready to move forward.

The nature of the collaboration with Qualcomm and Google applies to future Samsung products, which are yet to be determined. The firm is content with the announcement for now, and it’s aimed at augmented reality (XR or Augmented Reality). The term has its significance as it covers augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality. The trio aims for different experiences, and each account brings its own expertise.

© Screenshot / Samsung

In the Washington Post, TM Roh details his project and explains that Samsung will lead the production of the equipment. It’s a surprising choice as the firm has a solid track record for factories and screens in particular. The chipset will be the result of a “strategic cooperation” Between Samsung and Qualcomm, as with the latest Galaxy S23. The company behind Snapdragon is important in this field and already powers many headsets (Meta, HTC, Pico, etc.).

Samsung, Qualcomm and Google: each has its role

Ultimately, Google will be in charge of the software, and this choice is more surprising than it seems. Indeed, the American giant is not yet directly involved in this segment. There are many headsets with Android on the market, but they are usually a derivative version. The head of Samsung’s mobile division, TM Roh, is referring to a new version of Android that has yet to be announced. During development, it will be adapted to these uses. “We tried to determine what platform to work with for the ecosystem”– says the leader. “And in the end we decided it was going to be Google.”.

Discussions with Meta have probably taken place, as the company has already made significant progress in this market. It has a customized platform and apps dedicated to XR. Samsung does not close the doors to future cooperation with Meta and Microsoft.

“We believe that the ecosystem needs to be ready enough for the product to launch and for the product to be successful”TM Roh assures. “As you know, many attempts have already been made by other companies, but they did not achieve the expected success because the ecosystem was perhaps not as ready as it should have been..

Samsung Galaxy Unpacked XR 2023
Cristiano Amon (Qualcomm) and Hiroshi Lockheimer (Google) cover TM Roh (Samsung) © Screenshot / Samsung

We are especially thinking about the Google Glass project or the Samsung Gear VR. In recent years, the arrival of more successful products has changed the cards. Facebook’s parent company, Meta, has prioritized the development of the metaverse. For now, this strategy is hard to convince and faces challenges with projects like Microsoft’s Meta Horizon Worlds or HoloLens. Emboldened by questionable and massive layoffs, these companies are now reviewing their priorities.

All against Apple?

Samsung may take the opportunity to rush into the breach. The South Korean group is trying to find new sources of growth like its big rival Apple. The Apple brand may soon produce helmets and enter this promising sector. By partnering with Qualcomm and Google or tying up with Meta and Microsoft, Samsung is positioning itself as an alternative to Apple.

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