Leap Motion announced that it would retire its app store at the end of the month to leave its VR partners free to distribute content how they see fit.
The Leap App Store debuted in 2013 as a central location for developers to share their Leap Motion applications. As the company moves deeper and deeper into the VR technology space and further from its origins as a desktop input interface, it realized that a dedicated app store is no longer necessary or even viable.
Leap Motion is transitioning from a software company with an accompanying peripheral to a VR input technology company with proprietary hardware for third-party OEMs. Leap Motion’s founders told Tom’s Hardware over a year ago that it had developed a new camera for OEMs to integrate into upcoming VR HMD designs. The updated cameras offered wider FOV, improved tracking, and better integration into Leap Motion’s Orion software suite. We were told that the second-generation Leap Motion cameras would launch with new HMDs by the end of 2016. The OEM HMDs never materialized, but Leap Motion did reveal a reference design in December that companies could build upon to craft their own HMDs with Leap Motion integration.
We’re entering the sixth month of 2017, and we still haven’t heard from OEMs about upcoming HMDs, but Leap Motion is acting as though these mythical devices are just around the corner. Leap Motion is closing its software distribution portal to make way for the content distribution plans of its HMD partners.
The company said that it would issue refunds for App Store credits to “everyone who has used their Leap Motion wallet since January 1, 2017.” If you haven’t logged in this year but have store credit lying around, it might be a good idea to sign in.
Leap Motion isn’t abandoning content distribution completely. The company said it would dedicate more resources to expanding the Leap Motion Gallery, which houses all manner of free Leap Motion-enabled content. The Leap Motion Gallery is filled with free demos and apps for VR, IoT, and desktop use, and it isn’t going away anytime soon. Leap Motion is simply dropping its software monetization platform. The company is likely making its money with software licensing to the OEMs to which it sells hardware.