ProBeat: Facebook wants to start a VR price war
Facebook’s Oculus made waves three times this week. First, the company cut prices for its Oculus Rift VR headset and Touch controller by $ 200. Then a rumor suggested Facebook will be launching a $ 200 standalone VR headset next year. And finally, the company made the aforementioned two-product bundle permanent and promised to shave $ 100 off the regular price once the deal is over.
Any “transformative” technology takes a long time to ramp up. VR, in particular, has many hurdles to overcome — not only price — and many critics argue that AR should be the only focus. But the reality (ha!) is that the two are growing in tandem, and increasing adoption of one helps the other. Plus, as any business owner will tell you, the easiest (although not necessarily best) way to get more users is to cut prices.
Could the arrival of these three news items, back-to-back and in this order, be a coincidence? I doubt it, but even if that is the case, the theme nonetheless remains: Facebook wants to dominate VR by being the company that makes it affordable.
Let’s look at the first and third items. The “Summer of Rift” promotion is more than just offering a $ 600 product for $ 400. Facebook is combining the Oculus Rift headset with the Oculus Touch hand controllers in one attractive bundle, so if you take advantage of the deal, you’ll get the platform’s best VR experience out of the box. Furthermore, Facebook’s offer is for a “limited time,” a common way to create a sense of urgency so people don’t delay buying. The company may, of course, end up making the price cut permanent (it gave no end date for the deal). Either way, it has already shared that the bundle is here to stay and will be available for $ 500.
The second item is a perfect way to shape the public’s opinion that Facebook is plowing ahead with VR, as standalone headsets are the inevitable successors of tethered and mobile-powered solutions. And again, the main hook here is that the upcoming product will be affordable — $ 200 for a standalone headset is nothing to scoff at.
Whether on purpose or by chance, this week’s message was excellently executed. First, offer a new bundle at a lower price for a limited amount of time. Second, hint that an even cheaper and more accessible product is coming next year. Third, put the focus back on the deal, noting that the bundle is here to stay at a lower price, just not as low as it is right now.
This is a win-win for Facebook. If HTC and Sony don’t respond, then Facebook wins, as it’s the one focusing on low VR prices for consumers. If HTC and Sony do respond, then Facebook wins because VR in general becomes more affordable, which increases adoption across the board.
Plus, Facebook can always offer even better deals down the road since it has the deepest pockets of the three.