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Samsung's Media Struggles Continue: Its Milk Virtual Reality Boss Has Left

Samsung's entertainment efforts aren't going well.


Matt Apfel, the executive in charge of Samsung’s Milk VR content efforts, has left the company.


Milk VR is Samsung’s play for virtual reality video content — and a key part of the hardware maker’s strategy to plant its flag in the emerging field. As smartphone sales have slowed, Samsung and other Android manufacturers have looked to VR for a new revenue stream. Milk VR is its platform built for 360-degree videos, which currently live inside its Gear VR headset, a partnership with Facebook’s Oculus.

A spokesperson confirmed the departure and sent the following statement to Re/code: “Samsung remains committed to delivering engaging, connected entertainment experiences through our Milk platform, including Milk VR.”

So Samsung claims it still cares about VR videos. But Apfel’s departure, regardless of the reason, doesn’t look great for Samsung’s entertainment and software strategy, a long handicap for the Korean conglomerate. The company already shut down Milk Video and is reportedly shutting down its Milk Music service, too.

The perception in the VR industry is that Milk VR has been a relative bust. Part of the challenge is that Samsung has lots of competition from other video libraries like Oculus Video and YouTube and smaller, independent services like Littlestar and Vrideo. With its Oculus partnership, Samsung surrendered much of the content control to Facebook, according to a former Samsung employee.

Apfel, a VP of creative content and strategy for Samsung, joined the company in 2014. He was previously the chief digital officer for the Core Media Group. Samsung doesn’t have a replacement for Apfel, but we will update this story if we hear anything new.

In February, Samsung released the Gear 360, a consumer camera for capturing VR content that competes with offerings from Google and other startups.

Additional reporting by Ina Fried.

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