The price of Facebook’s flagship VR hardware, the Oculus Rift, has been reduced for the second time this year.
In a sales event dubbed the ‘Summer of Rift’ the price of the hardware and its Touch controller has been dropped to $399. This is half the price that the bundle was being sold for five months and $100 lower then then previous price drop in March.
The announcement has prompted a deluge of reaction from the tech media.
The reaction all seems to centre on whether the drop in price is indicative of the company trying to take advantage of a growth in consumer interest in the technology, or is a reflection of the VR’s inability to spark widespread interest.
Reuters have paraphrased a statement by Oculus vice president for content, Jason Rubin, who is quoted as saying the company:
“…could have cut the price sooner but wanted to wait until there were enough games, movies and other entertainment to keep a broad audience busy.”
Analysis shows that the Rift had sold roughly 24,000 units through the beginning of February. This is well behind the estimates for sales of the cheaper PlayStation VR and the more expensive HTC Vive.
So what is the mainstream technology media saying?
The report by Adario Strange puts a largely positive angle on the price reduction, focusing on how it helps put the hardware in more consumer homes:
“This represents a huge price cut that suddenly puts the VR device on a par with popular gaming consoles like the PlayStation and the Xbox. And while the Rift isn’t solely a gaming device, that comparison may help some who have been teetering on the edge of diving into VR esports, but are put off by the price of the Rift.”
For Darrell Etherington the price drop is helpful, but doesn’t show the whole picture:
“You’ll still need a powerful VR rig to make it all work, but the price benefit means you’re going to have more funds left over to help make that happen.”
MIT Technology Review
Jamie Condliffe claims that the price reduction suggests that the Rift is ‘dead in the water’:
“This is the latest in a string of bad news for the firm, which has also shut down its nascent film studio, shuttered in-store demo stations of its hardware, and stumped up $250 million as part of a painful intellectual property lawsuit in the last six months.”
Could the price drop be the result of the age of the system? Kyle Orland makes the point that the Rift is now a year and a half old:
“Today’s price drop may simply reflect the lowered cost of components that are now over a year older and likely being produced at more significant scale. The original Oculus Rift headset is approaching the 18-month transistor doubling/price-halving point suggested by some versions of Moore’s Law.”