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Oh, No! Nokia Stops OZO VR

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Google revamps its Daydream VR headset, Facebook is working on a wireless Oculus VR headset, and Microsoft buys AltspaceVR, but Nokia will "halt development of further versions of the OZO VR camera and hardware."

OZO camera

Blame the slower-than-expected development of the VR market, but the decision goes beyond that: Nokia has decided to stop bleeding from tech investments and reap a harvest from its recent business investment in digital health. (In 2016, it acquired a connected device company, Withings in France.)

"Nokia Technologies is at a point where, with the right focus and investments, we can meaningfully grow our footprint in the digital health market, and we must seize that opportunity," says Gregory Lee, president of Nokia Technologies.

The company will reduce VR investments, a decision that will precipatate the layoff of up to 310 of Nokia Technologies’ 1090+ employees in Finland, the US and UK.

The same change of direction that will see Nokia Technologies focus on digital health will see a similar focus on growing the Nokia brand (and technology) licensing-- and leave its patent licensing business untouched.

Although Nokia will no longer develop future versions of the OZO camera and hardware, it says it will maintain commitments to existing customers.

Speaking earlier this year, Tarif Sayed, head of VR Technologies at Nokia OZO, described VR headset uptake in 2016 as “disappointing.”

The market has since been bolstered by a reduction of VR headset prices, increased affordability of VR-compatible high-end PCs and laptops, and the introduction of several all-in-one wireless VR headsets. But not even Facebook's announcement of a $199 stand-alone headset for 2018 can inspire Nokia to hang in until Zuckerberg's dream of a billion VR users comes true.

Nokia launched its OZO virtual reality camera in Europe in 2016, selling the device at €55,000-- and that's now now sunk to about €34,780.

At NAB this year Nokia unveiled its next generation of immersive technology solutions with OZO Reality. Its vision for the future of virtual and mixed reality experiences, OZO Reality Platform included an ingest and management platform (OZO Deliver), the code for a VR playback video app (OZO Player SDK), and Nokia VR format extensions (designed to enable higher resolution, depth carriage, and spatial audio).

One presumes all that tech now may be up for licensing...

Nokia's OZO success was less dependent upon the uptake in the VR consumer market and more directly dependent upon on the uptake of content creators, who are notoriously slow tech adopters (as a whole).

This announcement and its after-shock will make VR integrators (companies selling content creation equipment  for VR, AR, MR) think twice about their vendors--even the "famous" ones.

Go Nokia Kills Further OZO Platform & Hardware Development