Google needs to start selling the Daydream Controller by itself
It's time to sell the Daydream Controller without its plushy headset.
If you want the Daydream experience, at least right now, you need to buy a Daydream View headset. With Daydream support coming to the Galaxy S8 this summer, that's not going to be an ideal solution for some. Many Galaxy S8 owners already have a great VR headset that could easily be used for Daydream, and it came free with the phone. The only thing that headset is missing in order to complete the Daydream experience is Google's motion controller.
The only way to get that controller right now is to buy a complete VR kit from Google, and with the volume of Gear VR headsets out in the world right now that needs to change.
There's something of an unspoken secret with Google Daydream — the headset is actually just a plushie version of Google Cardboard. There's no additional hardware in the headset, all of the Daydream magic is done in software thanks to Google's rigid hardware requirements. The only piece of hardware that is actually mandatory for Daydream to function is the Bluetooth wand you get with Daydream View, the Daydream Controller. Google has made this controller a standard, and said any company can make Daydream headsets if this controller is included.
But with the Galaxy S8 adding support soon, the script needs to be flipped a little. While Google gets lots of points for making Daydream View ultra comfortable and crush-proof, Samsung's Gear VR headset is a more immersive experience and it's actually built for the Galaxy S8. It's going to be a lot easier to convert Galaxy S8 owners to Daydream if it's possible for those who already own a Gear VR to just add a Daydream Controller. If you offer a more compelling user experience with deeper integration with Google services, which Daydream absolutely does, this will be a win-win for a lot of would-be VR fans. It's already possible to use the Gear VR to run Cardboard apps, so this really isn't a leap.
This extends well beyond the existing Gear VR owners. Google Cardboard headsets are everywhere, in every kind of configuration and made out of every kind of material. Offering those people, even the ones with simple pieces of cardboard, a way to upgrade the experience with the right phone is a great way to continue growth.
Daydream View is still the best overall way to enjoy Daydream, and will likely continue to be the most common way users jump into this platform, but it shouldn't be the only way. There are great alternatives, and Google's support would go a long way towards fringe user adoption.
So come on, Google. Do the thing.