This story was delivered to BI Intelligence Apps and Platforms Briefing subscribers. To learn more and subscribe, please click here.
Facebook is preparing to unveil a new and affordable stand-alone virtual reality (VR) headset in 2018 that will appeal to the masses, according to Business of Apps.
The forthcoming Oculus VR headset, priced at $200, won’t need to be tethered to a PC or smartphone, making it easier — and less expensive — for users.
The device is also expected to come with its own dedicated app store.
The new Oculus device will serve as an entry-point device aimed at bringing VR into the mainstream. Facebook has been making incremental solutions toward this goal ahead of the 2018 rollout. This latest announcement comes just days after Facebook permanently reduced the price of its Oculus Rift headset and Touch bundle down to $499 from its previous price point of $599. The company also issued a summer sales promotion that lowers the price of the bundle even further, to $399, for the next several weeks.
With the upcoming headset, Facebook is addressing three key barriers to consumer uptake:
- The cost-efficient price point will make the new Oculus device more accessible for the average consumer. Price is one of the primary reasons consumers are hesitant to buy VR headsets. In 2016, just 21% of US consumers interested in purchasing a VR product in the next six months had a budget exceeding $600, according to a Newzoo survey. Headsets like the Rift and HTC Vive, both of which need to be connected via a cable to a PC, are priced at $400 and $800, respectively.
- A centralized app store can serve as a one-stop hub for all content. The development of an app store for the new Oculus device will provide a single, easy access storefront for all apps. This move by Facebook essentially positions the company to popularize VR headsets in the same way the Apple iPhone did for smartphones.
- The developer ecosystem will gain momentum. Oculus may open the device prototype to game designers as early as this October in preparation for the 2018 app store launch. This will likely encourage developers to focus on creating content compatible with the new Oculus device, which would expand the developer ecosystem even further.
By offering an affordable stand-alone VR headset, Facebook can set the tone for the future of VR headsets. The new Oculus device tackles some of the many barriers that are impeding VR headset adoption, which, as a result, has been slow — only 7% of the US population engages with VR on a monthly basis, according to The Business Journals. If successful in eliminating some of these barriers, Facebook’s new device idea may have the power to influence other device makers to follow suit, which could spur adoption even further.
Jessica Smith, research analyst for BI Intelligence, has compiled a detailed report on virtual reality that:
- Identifies the major players in today’s VR hardware and platform markets.
- Estimates future growth of each of the major VR categories.
- Explores barriers to mass market consumer adoption for each of the VR hardware categories.
- Considers how developer sentiment is driving the growth of various platforms.
- Assesses how the market will shake out over the next five years in terms of size and the success of various VR hardware categories.
You can also purchase and download the full report from our research store.