Why VR is more Virtual than Reality in Iran

In March, another virtual reality headset, Phoenix Plus, was unveiled at the University of Tehran. This headset, which was also inspired by Google Cardboard, is the second such product sold by Iranian companies on the domestic market. Iranian technology analyst Mohammad Hossein Malek told Al-Monitor that he believes “these two products are considered a milestone in the field of virtual reality technology in Iran since they, for the first time, introduced virtual reality to Iranians.”

At present, VR is mostly used for entertainment purposes and especially computer games. The question is: Who in Iran really uses VR products? Malek said that at present, “Only hard-core technology enthusiasts and people who follow technology sites are familiar with this technology. In fact, a huge percentage of Iranians have not even heard the name of this technology and do not know much about it. One of the reasons behind their unfamiliarity with this technology is the mass media’s inability to cover it, to introduce VR products and also cover events related to VR.”

Iranian tech activists and enthusiasts are hoping that with the removal of nuclear-related sanctions, the local technology market will improve. This is particularly the case since major international tech firms have not had any official representation in Iran. Malek said, “There are no proper guidelines and no supervision of the sale of these products in Iran. This problematic process coupled with ordinary people’s lack of information about this technology has resulted in virtual technology not being very popular in Iran.”

Iran also appears to suffer from some comparative disadvantages in this respect. Malek added, “We are sometimes faced with astronomical prices for these products and technologies, so that it is possible for a new product such as the HTC virtual reality headset to be priced five times its actual price. This is while users in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and others that have heavily invested in the IT market have a much easier time accessing these technologies.”

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