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The founder Oculus, Palmer Luckey, hiked his way through the cold, Alaskan snow with a shipping box in hand for a certain Ross Martin. Inside the box? The very first consumer version of the Oculus Rift. Luckey wanted to make the occasion momentous, and he did so by hand-delivering the Rift to its first customer.
Oculus founder Palmer Luckey wanted to do something special for one of the customers who pre-ordered the Rift: deliver it in person. According to Engadget that's exactly what he did. The publication picked up a tweet from Martin, who is an indie developer, where the post had nothing but an image of the Rift, himself, a blank wall, and Luckey Palmer wearing a red and beige flower t-shirt... in Alaska.
Luckey joked in a separate tweet that he shouldn't have hiked to the cold state in just flip-flops.
In a quote given to Polygon, Luckey explained that while early shipments are going out for the Oculus Rift, they wanted the first shipment to be something grand and special, saying...
This didn't come together until the last second, I've had a bunch of things that I've wanted to do over the years, and I was pretty adamant. […] I said, 'Hey guys, I've been working on this since 2009, we've been working on Oculus since 2012, I'll be damned if some random delivery guy is going to get the satisfaction of delivering the first Rift. That's mine.'
Well he certainly made an impression because it's now a story trending along with the actual release of the head-mounted display unit.
In fact, the virtual reality headset is officially available today and will likely arrive at the doorsteps of those who pre-ordered the unit, tomorrow. The units shipped out back on March 24th, with a short blurb by Oculus on their official website giving everyone the heads-up about it. However, despite some units set to arrive at some point on the 28th and most scheduled to land at the feet of consumers on the 29th, Luckey wanted the opportunity for himself and as a representation of Oculus to hand-deliver the first Rift to a customer.
At this point it's hard to tell how well the Rift will do on the market because the media has been giving VR a lot of attention lately, but some analysts have been scaling back their expectations on consumer sales. It could potentially be a huge market, and even sites like Pornhub have jumped onto the VR bandwagon, but there's no actual telling if outside of core enthusiasts these HMDs will actually be big business.
Facebook is banking on miscellaneous use and social interaction to be big business for the Rift, but many customers think that the biggest selling point for virtual reality devices will likely be porn and gaming. Right now it's all in the early stages of entering the consumer market, and while a high volume of pre-orders might seem like a great start, let's not forget the Wii U had a good launch with strong sales once it first hit the market. However, sales tapered off and dropped drastically once all the enthusiasts and Nintendo fans had a Wii U unit.
We'll see if the Oculus Rift (and soon the HTC Vive) can weather the market storm after all the pre-orders are shipped out and the casual consumer steps into play. In the meantime, Ross Martin likely won't have to worry about any of that as he enjoys virtual reality from the comfort of his own home.