Mobile VR and the Web (which is already mobile)

If 87% of VR headsets in consumers’ hands (or on their heads) are mobile VR – then the experiences we create will have to give good UX on mobile VR.

I’m a web guy, and I’m fascinated by the onset of VR. And as a web guy, I’m convinced that mobile VR will be essential to the 3D web.

I was considering picking up some of the high-end VR goggles and experimenting with technologies like WebVR. Trouble is, the high-end ones need a heavy-duty computer to even function.

Mobile VR - Google Cardboard
Mobile VR – Google Cardboard

The “easy way” to get into VR these days is with mobile VR. Mobile VR is really just a piece of plastic (or cardboard) with some lenses that you attach to your smartphone, to experience “low end” VR.

Based on a number of factors, I’ve decided to take the plunge into mobile VR, and leave that high-end stuff alone for now.

First up – the web is already mobile. Much of the last decade has been spent coming to grips with the fact that people use the web everywhere on all manner of hardware. The way websites are built has evolved considerably to take this into account.

But here’s the kicker:

Mobile VR headsets are projected to account for 87% of headset deliveries in the near future.

We hear a great deal about the debut of the big non-mobile VR rigs these days – and fair enough. Dollar for dollar, they account for 77% of sales.

But while they count for 77% of sales – they only account for 13% of actual headsets. That’s 1 in 8.

After two decades of making things for the web, I’ve seen the inevitability – you have to make stuff that works everywhere. “Write once, run anywhere”, they used to say. Before the browser wars.

Heck, not many years ago, when mobile devices started to be 30% or more of web traffic, the world immediately stopped developing websites that didn’t work on mobile.

Now we take for granted that if a website is to be good, it has to be easy to understand and use on mobile devices.

And I’m more than willing at this point to jump to this conclusion:

If 87% of VR headsets in consumers’ hands (or on their heads) are mobile VR – then the experiences we create will have to give good UX on mobile VR.

One thing more, from 11 days ago:

Samsung Gear VR now works with the web’s native VR format

Mobile VR - WebVR on Samsung Gear VR

That’d be WebVR, as they explain in the subtitle.

So, WebVR works on Gear VR – the vast majority of VR headsets sold in the near future will be mobile VR headsets – and I can get into this without buying a new computer and waiting heaven knows how long to receive delivery.

Various non-mobile and mobile VR headsetsIf you’re interested in more information about all the different types of VR headsets that are available (or soon to be available, at least in April, 2016) this is an excellent article.



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Author: Pete

Editor-in-Chief, Lead Software Developer and Artistic Director @