We should be in the early days of commercial grade virtual reality, but there have been a few missteps. The Oculus Rift has been officially released, but purchasers have had their shipments of the hardware delayed. Likewise, the HTC Vive was scheduled for a blanket "April" release window, but it doesn't look like systems are heading out to consumers anytime soon.
Just over a week ago, Oculus VR updated consumers with the status of their shipments, blaming the delay on a "component shortage". To alleviate some of the anger, Oculus VR has promised to cover the shipping costs for delayed systems.
"We've been working through an unexpected component shortage, and unfortunately, that issue has impacted the original shipping estimates for some early customers," read the email sent to buyers. "We're working hard to get up-to-date ship windows, and you should expect to see your order status updated on Oculus.com by Tuesday, April 12."
Today is April 12 and the updates are not much better. Folks on the official Oculus forums are reporting shipping windows updating from March to mid-May. For many Oculus Rift consumers, the major issue is the lack of transparency and communication from Oculus VR. There have been missteps in the launch of the Oculus Rift and users feel they've remained largely in the dark, outside of the occasional update on Reddit. Oculus founder Palmer Luckey told users on Twitter that the component shortage was fixed last week, but declined to share further details.
"We apologize for the delay getting Rifts to your doorstep. We're addressing the component shortage and shipping Rifts as fast as we can," said the company's official Twitter account today.
HTC is being more open and honest about its issues with regular updates, but the delays are still noticeable. The company previously had problems processing Vive order payments and since then, consumers have had further questions about their hardware shipping status. Last week, HTC released a statement on the shipping situation and the company updated that statement yesterday.
"In an effort to shed light on recent shipping issues reported since shipments began Monday, we would like to address several questions that have been asked in various forums," said the company. "Your Vive system will be shipped in the month noted in your order confirmation email."
"When your purchase has been completed and your order has been shipped, you will receive a separate shipment notification email, which includes a tracking number. Orders began shipping from HTC distribution centers in Europe, North America and Asia on April 5. We can only provide exact shipping and delivery timings to customers once shipping notifications have been issued by our distribution partners."
HTC is trying its best to make sure orders get out to customers in the order they were received. When questioned about the possibility of orders not hitting the April window, HTC vice president of VR Daniel O'Brien promised that orders would be fulfilled on time.
Until Oculus Rift and HTC Vive shipments actually wind their way to consumers, you can consider the virtual reality revolution on hold.