On Thursday, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg provided a preview of the company's upcoming virtual reality headset, the Quest 3. In an Instagram video, Zuckerberg revealed that the new headset will have a starting price of $499 and will be the first to feature "high-res color mixed reality." Additionally, the Quest 3 is 40% thinner than its predecessor, the Quest 2.
The video showcased at least three cameras on the front of the headset, suggesting potential improvements in pass-through experiences where users can see and interact with the real world while wearing the device. It was mentioned that the Quest 3 offers enhanced "natural" depth perception and improved graphics for gaming. Meta stated that the headset incorporates features such as high-fidelity color Passthrough, innovative machine learning, and spatial understanding, enabling users to interact with virtual content and the physical world simultaneously, thus opening up limitless possibilities for exploration.
According to the announcement, the Quest 3 will be equipped with a next-generation Qualcomm chipset. Meta plans to share more details about the device during its Connect conference on September 27.
Meta's previous VR headset, the Quest 2, was released in the fall of 2020 with a starting price of $299. In contrast, Apple is expected to unveil its own VR headset, potentially incorporating augmented reality features, during its June WWDC event. Reports suggest that Apple's consumer headset may be compatible with hundreds of thousands of iPad apps and could cost at least $3,000.
Earlier this year, Meta indicated that it would release the Quest 3 in 2023, stating during its third-quarter 2022 earnings call that the company's cost of revenue would increase due in part to the launch of its next-generation consumer Quest headset.
Meta has been heavily investing in the development of the metaverse, a digital universe that requires virtual reality and augmented reality technologies for access. Its Reality Labs unit, responsible for VR and AR advancements, reported an operating loss of $3.99 billion in the first quarter of this year, while generating $339 million in revenue.
In July 2022, Meta raised the price of the entry-level Quest 2 to $399 but has now announced that it will lower the price back to $299 starting June 4. Additionally, Meta introduced the Quest Pro VR headset for enterprise use last October, initially priced at $1,499.99. However, the company later reduced the price to $999.99 and also lowered the price of the higher-storage version of the Quest 2 from $499.99 to $429.99.
While immersive technology continues to evolve, sales of VR headsets in the U.S. saw a 2% decline in 2022 compared to the previous year, reaching $1.1 billion, according to research group NPD Group. This suggests that widespread adoption of VR as a mainstream consumer electronics category is still some distance away.
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