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Samsung's Gear 360 goes on sale in US on 'limited basis' for $350

The company also launches a new initiative, Samsung Creators, to get more people to make VR videos.

James Martin/CNET
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VR enthusiasts in the US can finally get their hands on Samsung's Gear 360 virtual reality camera -- if they're going to an online video conference in California.

The South Korean company on Wednesday said it will start selling the camera in the US "on a limited basis" for $350. Initially, it will be available for purchase only this week at VidCon in Anaheim, California, and Samsung said it will share more details about additional availability later this year. The Gear 360 camera, which lets you shoot your own video for VR headsets, hit the market in South Korea and Singapore in late April.

Samsung on Wednesday also renamed its VR video service Samsung VR, dropping the "Milk" moniker it previously used for its music service and now-defunct video service. It will let users add their own clips to the service instead of only having professionally created videos.

Samsung also launched a new initiative, Samsung Creators, to teach filmmakers about how to make VR videos and use the Gear 360 camera. The company will provide seminars and classes, starting at VidCon, about the technology and will launch a competition in July to challenge indie filmmakers to create VR/360 content using Samsung's devices. Ten users will be chosen in the categories of music, auto, science and tech, gaming, travel, fashion, culinary, cause-related, 4D, and sports.


"We want to bring the power of VR technology directly to the people," Marc Mathieu, Samsung Electronics America's marketing chief, said in a statement.

Virtual reality has been a big push for Samsung. The company partnered with Facebook's Oculus business in 2014 to introduce Gear VR, virtual-reality goggles powered by a high-end Samsung phone. It launched a $99 consumer version of the headset late last year in hopes of making it a mainstream device. And it created the Gear 360 camera to get more content for VR headsets.

No one's quite sure how popular VR will be. Consulting firm Analysis Group in February estimated that through 2020, the revenue generated worldwide from virtual reality and augmented reality will total somewhere between $2.8 billion and $126 billion. That's not a typo. The huge range suggests that no one really knows what will happen with this technology.