Samsung begins selling the Gear 360 in New Zealand – who’s going to be next?
When Samsung first unveiled their Gear 360 camera back in February, I was eager to learn more and compare the camera to other competing consumer 360° models. At the time, there was little information available on a release date or price range.
Then early this month we finally got our hands on a Gear 360. I did the whole unboxing thing and took it out to the beach and shot some test footage. I’ve tested a number of consumer 360° cameras under the $1,000 price range and the Gear 360 was hands down my favorite.
I was sold on the camera. The footage resolution was what i’ve been looking for in a consumer 360° camera, a device that didn’t require spending hours stitching in Autopano, and something I could just easily share the final video on social.
Yes, i’ve heard the complaints on it not being a 3D camera or shooting 30 frames-per-second, but let’s be realistic for a second. Most consumers shooting 360° video for the first time probably just want to post on Facebook or YouTube and aren’t even thinking about viewing in a VR headset. Even for most consumers who will never get the privilege of stitching GoPro footage, this camera will seem simple to them and make shooting immersive video accessible to a whole new world of creators.
There is one problem though. Back in February, Samsung announced that the Gear 360 would be shipping sometime in Q2 2016. I do realize that there’s more than one week left in the month before we hit Q3 2016, but you would think we would have heard an announcement about pre-orders by now.
International Availability (Korea & New Zealand)
On April 29th, I was surprised to see that Samsung began selling the Gear 360 in Korea and Singapore. At the time of writing this, stock in Singapore is no longer available, but Korea is not only still selling the Gear 360 for around $335 USD, but they are also selling a bundle with the Gear VR for close to $420 USD.
We can also add one more country to that list as well. On Tuesday, Samsung announced the availability of their Gear 360 in New Zealand. The consumer camera is available for purchase in their online regionalized store and will be available in-store starting June 20th. The price: $436 USD.
When it comes to other countries, Samsung Netherlands will let you pre-order online for a price of $392 USD, with an availability date of June 10.
Other countries to note with product pages but no online availability or pricing include Germany, Spain and Belgium. Others have reported that UK based MobileFun has opened pre-orders of the Gear 360 at a price of $362 USD, but when speaking with the company, availability has been pushed back from a mid-June delivery to now possibly July.
United States Availability
If you thought pricing and availability of the Gear 360 internationally seems inconsistent, the United States is much worse. We have been regularly contacting the two top camera retailers, B&H and Adorama, to get a better idea of what to expect.
B&H does have a product page without pricing and strangely enough, over the past month, have moved their expected availability date from July to what is now showing as “Fall 2016”. At one point B&H was accepting pre-orders, but their inventory of 10 cameras has already been sold and the site is now currently showing as “not available.”
Adorama is equally inconsistent, showing a backorder page without pricing or availability. When checking with customer service on pricing and availability multiple times, availability has changed from “Summer” to “Fall,” while the pre-order price has gone from originally $399 to $449, with a final retail price of $499.
If you need a Gear 360 right now, you can buy an international version for $499 on Amazon. International just means the manual is all in Korean, but honestly I don’t think you’ll need the manual. If you want me to send an English version, just ping me.
Is The Gear 360 Delayed?
Aside from the varying prices, which we can assume will range from $350 – $500, the Gear 360 is still only available in a couple countries. With retailers in the US pushing their availability dates back later into the year, it appears we likely won’t see the Gear 360 drop in Q2 2016.
There is one possibility behind the potential delay of the Gear 360.
Due to the April 14, 2016 earthquake and subsequent earthquakes in the Kumamoto region of Japan, operations at Sony’s manufacturing facility, primarily responsible for manufacturing digital camera image sensors, was halted. The damage to the manufacturing site was significant enough that facility operations have only begun resuming in the past week.
So why would this Sony facility have any impact on manufacturing of the Gear 360? It might not, but essentially all major camera manufacturers either use Sony sensors, or rely on the Sony fabrication line to manufacture their own sensor designs, and all that manufacturing happens at this one plant in Kumamoto. Having the Sony Kumamoto facility down for over a month now has already created a significant cascading effect on the international camera business.
Samsung had no comment when asked about the potential delay or impact of the Kumamoto facility suspension. Camera manufacturers more often than not never disclose the source of their image sensors anyways, so we’ll probably never know for sure.
Whatever the reason for this roll-out instead of a full-blown launch (seem familiar) of the Gear 360, we know you’re all eager for more details and we’ll make sure to update you when we learn more. Delay or not, I know i’ll still be one of the first to order another Gear 360, whenever it really becomes available.
And for all you Dads out there looking to get your hands on a Gear 360 too, this latest commercial is for you.