- Nokia announced the commercial availability of its OZO Virtual Reality (VR) camera, shipping in Q1 2016.
- The OZO, priced at $60,000, is aimed at media companies, studios and professional creators.
- Nokia wants to own the content creation part of the projected $150 billion VR market.
- Credit Suisse upgraded Nokia stock to Outperform after an analysis of the impending merger with Alcatel-Lucent.
Nokia (NYSE:NOK) announced the commercial availability of the OZO Virtual Reality (VR) camera at a launch event in Los Angeles for the media and entertainment industry. According to the Nokia press release, the OZO defines a new category in professional VR capture and film making. The spherical camera, shipping in Q1 2016, introduces to the market innovative features such as real-time VR preview, wireless operation, and full 3D 360 audio and video broadcast capabilities.
"We're at the dawn of an exciting new medium that will transform the way people connect to stories, events, and the world around them," said Ramzi Haidamus, president of Nokia Technologies. "OZO is a powerful tool designed for the professional creators who will answer the most exciting and intriguing questions about the possibilities for virtual reality."
With a hefty price tag of $60,000, the OZO is aimed at media companies, studios and professional creators. The spherical camera can capture a full 360 degree view with sound, in a format ready to be integrated in video games, virtual worlds, and VR cinema - the next generation of entertainment powered by VR technology.
Wired notes that Nokia’s bold move into virtual reality indicates that the company is still alive, and more interested in the projected $150 billion VR industry than in the mobile handset industry. Nokia's slogan, "Connecting People," is to be reinterpreted for the VR era.
Other top tech companies are also betting billions on VR. Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) recently invested $65 million in Silicon Valley virtual-reality startup Jaunt and intends to use VR technology in next-generation VR theme parks. Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), after acquiring the next-generation Oculus Rift VR headset for $2 billion, is moving aggressively to make VR mainstream. "In the future you're going to feel like you're right there," said Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. "There is always a richer and more immersive medium," he added. "The next logical step is fully immersive VR."
Only a few years ago, Nokia was best known for its mobile phones. Then Nokia's cell phone business faltered. The mobile operating system Symbian supported by Nokia phones, though technically superior, didn't achieve the penetration of Apple's iOS, Google's Android, and (more recently) Microsoft's Windows Phone. Eventually, Nokia's mobile device division was purchased by Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) in 2014.
After the Microsoft acquisition, the Nokia Technologies division was created in Helsinki, Finland, to explore new ways for humans to interact with technology and came up with the first OZO prototype, notes Wired.
"It was a very early prototype; a lab rat," Haidamus told The Verge. "But the video 3D accuracy, and the audio accuracy were phenomenal, even at that stage. And I knew we had a winner, because if you were to think of the market that’s being disrupted, introducing a brand new medium, we were catching it at the right time."
The result of Nokia's effort - the recently announced OZO spherical VR camera - is a finished high-end professional product that dramatically simplifies the complex task of capturing and processing scenes for VR cinema. Haidamus said that Nokia wants to own the content creation part of the VR market, and will partner with other companies in other parts of the market.
In related news, the announced merger of Nokia with Alcatel Lucent (NYSE:ALU) is practically regarded as a done deal. After a detailed analysis of the impending merger, Credit Suisse upgraded its Nokia Stock rating to Outperform from Neutral and also raised Nokia's earnings estimates by 17 percent in 2018. Nokia stock price jumped up after the upgrade.
After the merger with Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia will be a top tech company, and the Credit Suisse upgrade reflects that. Nokia's VR business strategy - owning the content creation part of the market - makes perfect sense and indicates that Nokia stock, once a darling of tech investors, is likely to soon be on the rise again.