Oculus needs to bring Mac support to the Rift in order to succeed, virtual reality CEO says

Neglecting Apple could have implications for the overall adoption of VR, YouVisit CEO Abi Mandelbaum believes

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The Independent Tech

Oculus needs to get on board with Apple if it wants to suceed, the chief executive of a major virtual reality (VR) production company has claimed.

Palmer Luckey, the inventor of the Oculus Rift headset and founder of Oculus VR, caused a stir earlier in March when he said his headset would only be made compatible with Macs "when Apple makes a good computer."

Luckey defended his comments by saying most Apple computers simply aren't powerful enough to support the Rift - but according to Abi Mandelbaum, CEO of virtual reality company YouVisit, his dismissal of Mac users could have "large implications for the overall accessibility and adoption of VR."

Speaking to The Independent, Mandelbaum said neglecting Apple could not just reduce the number of Oculus customers, but also the number of Oculus creators.

He said: "A lot of the industries that want to create VR content are industries where Macs are very prevalent - they're areas like design, real estate, architecture, travel, education. If these people cannot consume VR content on the Oculus, they won't be creating for it either."

He added: "These are industries which are ripe for embracing VR and really adopting it, and if you tell them they can only get involved by getting a different computer, then you've basically excluded that entire market."

"Eventually, this opens the door to companies like HTC, Samsung and even Apple itself to provide a product for Mac users."

The Rift's lack of Mac support could already be losing them customers. HTC have insisted that the Vive, the Rift's main rival, will work with Macs from day one, in theory - whether any stock Macs could support it is another story.

VR has been heralded as the future of gaming, explaining Oculus's focus on PC. But as a cutting-edge piece of tech, it doesn't come cheap - a bundle containing a headset, an Xbox controller and a couple of games will set you back $600, and that's not counting the high-end PC you need to go with it.

Mandelbaum believes that cheaper, lower-end VR devices, like the Samsung Gear VR or Google Cardboard, will be the ones to take the industry forward.

He said: "If the cost to try VR is significantly high, you won't even consider it, and that's what's happening with Oculus - the way they have set up the specs and limited it to a certain platform makes the cost to try much higher."

Allowing people to download software for use on more accessible devices like smartphones is a better strategy, he said.

"It creates a lower barrier to entry and that's what the industry should be focused on as a whole. The market right now is a little bit obsessed with hardware, but in reality it's the software which is going to connect all those dots and let the hardware reach the masses."

Both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive will be shipped to pre-ordering customers soon, and Samsung's giveaway of Gear VR headsets with the Galaxy S7 smartphone will bring the technology into the homes of thousands of newbies.  

Regardless of which company ends up winning the platform wars, 2016 is going to be a big year for VR.