VidCon attendees get first dibs paying for the racquetball-sized 360 camera as Samsung opens its VR platform to user-generated content.

It's been about four months since Samsung announced the Gear 360 camera — its entry into the growing market of 360-degree cameras. In that time we've seen LG release its 360 CAM, and the excellent Ricoh Theta S has gained steam as well. But we've been waiting in earnest for the Gear 360 because, well, it's Samsung. Meanwhile, the company has given out scores of Gera 360s to attendees of its annual developer conference, and we've been able to import them from Korea for some time now. (Which we did.)

Finally, though, we've got more official information for those of us in North America. The Gear 360 will retail for $349 (that's right in line with the Theta S, by the way) and go on sale ... well, we're not really sure when.

Samsung's making the Gear 360 available this week — "on a limited basis" — if you're attending the VidCon conference in Anaheim, Calif., outside Los Angeles. "Details about additional availability will follow later in the year," Samsung said in its press release.

The Gear 360 sports two 15-megapixel wide-angle lenses that stitch together two images for near-360-degree photos and video. It works with Samsung's current generation of smartphones — the Galaxy S6 and GS7, and Galaxy Note 5, but the camera also is self-contained enough that you can use it without an accompanying smartphone if necessary. (But it's a lot easier if you've got a phone alongside.)

In addition to this early availability news, Samsung has announced that it's rebranding its Milk VR service to just "Samsung VR" and is launching "Samsung Creators" as part of VidCon — "a new initiative that empowers storytellers, partnering with them to generate content across a variety of audiences and channels to show everyday creators what's possible with Samsung VR technology."

Samsung Launches Samsung Creators to Democratize and Accelerate Next Generation Storytelling Program to Encourage Exploration of New Transformative, 360 and VR Medium

Samsung's End-to-End VR Ecosystem Fuels User Generated Content with Advanced Services and High Quality Products

NEW YORK – June 22, 2016 – Today Samsung Electronics America, Inc. launched Samsung Creators, a new initiative that empowers storytellers, partnering with them to generate content across a variety of audiences and channels to show everyday creators what's possible with Samsung VR technology.

"We want to bring the power of VR technology directly to the people," said Samsung Electronics America's Chief Marketing Officer Marc Mathieu. "To help creators learn and perfect the art of VR storytelling, we've built an entire VR ecosystem that pushes beyond the frame and empowers them to develop unforgettable, immersive stories, and inspires us all to do the same."

At VidCon—and, beyond—Samsung Creators will provide seminars and classes, putting VR capabilities in the hands of filmmakers and influencers, further accelerating this new medium. Leading into VidCon, Samsung Creators is working with Casey Neistat to spotlight emerging creators from YouTube and push the creative boundaries of 360 video storytelling. This special curation of content will premiere at VidCon.

In July, Samsung Creators will launch a competition, challenging aspiring, indie filmmakers and creators to develop VR / 360 content, using Samsung's VR products. Ten winners will be chosen, one from each of the following ten categories: Music, Auto, Science and tech, Gaming, Travel, Fashion, Culinary, Cause-related, 4D and Sports.

For more information about Samsung Creators, please visit

Samsung VR and Samsung Gear 360 Updates

In addition, today Samsung launched Samsung VR– formerly known as Samsung Milk VR – which now supports user generated content. Creators can load their own 360-degree videos to the Samsung VR platform for sharing and for the first time view them in Samsung Gear VR. For more information about uploading content to Samsung VR, please visit

Samsung Gear 360 also launched in the U.S. today, an affordable, high-resolution camera developed for storytellers to create their own 360-degree videos for mobile viewing and VR content for Samsung Gear VR, powered by Oculus. The Gear 360 is priced at $349.99 in the United States and will be available for purchase on a limited basis during VidCon in Anaheim, California. Details about additional availability will follow later in the year. For more information about Gear 360, please visit

With these announcements, Samsung delivers the first end-to-end VR ecosystem that enables creators to shoot, stitch and share like never before.