Many people who preordered the Oculus Rift will be waiting significantly longer than expected. After announcing delays because of an "unexpected component shortage," Oculus has now updated the expected ship dates for customers' virtual reality headsets, pushing some back by a month or more. As detailed on a Reddit thread, people who ordered on the first day (sometimes within the first hour) have gotten new ship dates that range from May to June. The very first Rift headsets shipped in late March.
Oculus sent emails to Rift buyers in early April, informing them that filling orders was taking more time than expected and promising new estimates soon. Unsurprisingly, early adopters aren't happy. While there have been attempts to methodically reverse-engineer details that could reveal Oculus' shipping plans, there's not an obvious pattern to how long a given Rift is delayed. Some people have reported getting bumped from March to early May or even June, while others have reported getting May orders delayed only until June — which would make sense if Oculus is planning to have ramped up production by early summer. (For reference, I ordered a Rift about 20 minutes after preorders opened, got an April ship date, and have a new estimate of May 16th to 26th.) If you order a Rift right now, Oculus estimates an August arrival.
Some customers report getting March shipments bumped to May or even June
The HTC Vive faced some problems processing orders earlier this month, but HTC says there will be no delays for its virtual reality headset. "Your Vive system will be shipped in the month noted in your order confirmation email," it promised in a blog post last week, and HTC's VP of virtual reality Daniel O'Brien elaborated on Twitter: "If you received a confirmation for April, you are absolutely going to get your order in April."
We reached out to Oculus for details about the average delay that Rift customers can expect. We also asked how this affects people who bought Oculus Rift PC bundles, which opened for preorders separately. While a spokesperson didn't specifically comment on these questions, she offered an apology from Oculus.
The component shortage impacted our quantities more than we expected, and we've updated the shipment window to reflect these changes. We apologize for the delay. We're delivering Rifts to customers every day, and we're focused on getting Rifts out the door as fast as we can. We've taken steps to address the component shortage, and we'll continue shipping in higher volumes each week. We've also increased our manufacturing capacity to allow us to deliver in higher quantities, faster. Many Rifts will ship less than four weeks from original estimates, and we hope to beat the new estimates we've provided.
We also asked if the shortage would delay the Rift appearing in retail stores — something Oculus previously said would happen this month. "No, it will not," the spokesperson said. "We haven't announced retail plans yet, but more details are coming soon." It's not clear whether this means that many early preorder customers may end up getting their units after they've already started appearing in stores.
Oculus isn't charging for preorders until they actually ship, so at the very least, no one is paying for something they haven't received — and anyone who waits is getting their $50 shipping fee waived on the $600 order. Oculus has said that the free units that original Kickstarter backers are receiving come from "a different allocation," so they hopefully won't face the same delays. Of course, given how long it took to ship the original Rift development kits, Kickstarter backers should be used to waiting by now.
Update April 12th, 1PM and 2:30PM ET: Added statements from Oculus.