Facebook founder and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg finally unveiled the Meta Quest Pro today at the company’s Meta Connect virtual event. And the company finally revealed the price of the device: $1,499.
That’s $1,100 more than the company’s entry-level Quest 2 headset, which itself got a price hike from $300 to $400 earlier this year.
For months, virtual reality (VR) industry watchers speculated, based on tips and feature leaks, that Meta’s new device might cost anywhere from $800 to $1,500. When the price was confirmed at the very high end of that spectrum, the initial reaction from even the most devoted VR users was largely shock and disappointment.
The business case for Meta’s premium, higher-priced VR has yet to be proven
Although Meta is framing the device as a high-end solution for business users, and not the gamers who have helped the Meta Quest store reach $1.5 billion in revenue, there’s no evidence that a mass enterprise customer base yet exists for VR.
Part of Meta’s would-be selling point for enterprise in this case appears to be the device’s eye tracking and passthrough ability that lets the wearer interact with the real world while wearing the headset.
But the enterprise customers looking to design products or meet virtually using augmented reality-style interactions already have two advanced options, the Microsoft HoloLens 2 and the Magic Leap 2. So it was a surprise when Zuckerberg introduced Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella to announce a partnership that will allow Quest Pro users to use Microsoft Teams and Office in in VR.
However, the pairing is only odd on Meta’s side, as Microsoft has a long track record of partnering with outside VR device makers looking to use its software platforms. The twist here is Zuckerberg breaking with his usual siloed software strategy to embrace the powers of one of Meta’s biggest rivals.
Meta probably doesn’t have the pricing power of Apple
Some of the distaste for the Meta Quest Pro’s price is probably tied to the tumultuous past few years related to Meta’s handling of user data and advertisements, which have had a knock-on effect on its overall VR brand.
Meanwhile, if the rumors surrounding Apple’s immersive device are true, many iPhone fans would likely not hesitate to pay even more than $1,500 for an Apple VR headset with passthrough abilities. That device is expected to arrive in 2023.
The case for enterprise VR
Last year, Accenture picked up 60,000 Meta Quest 2 headsets to train employees in VR. Notably, fellow VR headset leader HTC also shifted its strategy a few years ago to focus on providing enterprise customers with immersive training hardware. Its standalone business VR headset, the Vive Focus 3 (no PC needed), sells for about $1,145.
So the case for enterprise VR isn’t zero. But the hope that companies will pay prices approaching that of the HoloLens 2 ($3,500) and Magic Leap 2 ($3,200) just to get a better VR experience, when a basic standalone VR headset like the Quest 2 or Pico 4 is available for just $400, may be optimistic.
But is the Quest Pro really meant for business users?
No matter what Meta said during its Connect presentation, to most VR enthusiasts (generally, gamers), the Quest Pro looks more like a deluxe VR headset rather than a business tool that isn’t meant for them. For comparison, the most popular high-end system among VR gamers, the Valve Index, costs just $1,000. And even on its own platform, the device only accounts for 17% of the overall VR headsets used.
Meanwhile, on the Meta Quest YouTube channel, the demo videos for new software announced during the event were Marvel’s Iron Man VR, Among Us VR, and The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners. Those are all VR games. As of this writing, not a single app shown on the channel is enterprise-related.
Meta knows its VR customer base is in gaming. But it is attempting to map out a new enterprise base for itself from scratch, with a premium price for a few, albeit impressive, new features. By pricing out its core VR user base already dedicated to the platform, Meta is testing an approach that could stoke further concerns about its overall metaverse strategy.