Samsung’s second-generation Gear VR headset is estimated to ship 6.7m units this year, says market research firm SuperData, putting it "neck-and-neck" with Google’s Daydream devices.
SuperData predicts that Google’s open source Daydream headsets, including those made by third-party manufacturers, will ship 6.8m units this year, putting it just ahead of Samsung.
However, the second gen Gear VR could still turn things around for Samsung, thanks to its new bundled remote and the fact it’s being thrown in for free as a pre-order bonus with Samsung’s soon-to-be-released flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S8 and S8+.
"Pre-orders for the S8/S8+ are already outpacing the S7’s, and the controller makes a lot more sense than the cumbersome d-pad on the side of your face [on the 2016 model]," said Stephanie Llamas, vice president of research and strategy and head of VR/AR at SuperData.
"People are now much more aware of VR and are more open to the experience they can get from a free headset. Instead of [thinking] ‘what is this thing’, people are now going, ‘I wonder what this VR stuff is all about’. It’s accessing a more enlightened audience, and that in and of itself is an improvement."
Llamas also believes Samsung can outpace Google’s own Daydream View headset: "Google’s Daydream View had a leg-up on its  competitor with its remote. It offers a better experience than the impossible-to-find d-pad on the side of the original Gear VR and is far less clunky than the Xbox-like controllers that were compatible with it. But it’s still pretty glitchy, so this gives Samsung the perfect opportunity to swoop ahead of Google before the bulk of Daydream-compatible smartphones come out."
She’s also not concerned by the similarities between the old Gear VR and its newer sibling: "Both headsets will be compatible with the S6, S7 and S8 collections and the controller works with the older model of the Gear, which is a smart move.
"Samsung is offering an upgraded experience without annoying their early adopters. Sure, the upgrade is marginal, but it’s an upgrade (and an affordable one at that) nonetheless. Samsung’s headset and VR ecosystem are increasingly proving to be Oculus’s white horse given the PC headset’s unimpressive sales (243K in 2016) and bad press."
HTC Vive, meanwhile, is predicted to hit 1.3m units this year, whereas Oculus is only estimated to ship 496,000. As for Sony’s PlayStation VR, SuperData projects this will hit 3.5m shipments by the end of the year.