Meta's Quest Pro is a powerful VR headset, but for whom?
There's no question that the new Meta Quest Pro is a step forward for VR technology. But even Meta executives don't always agree on who the target market is for the pricey new headset.
Why it matters: While Meta and others have a clear vision for the virtual world they envision some years out, they face a challenge in the intervening years to figure out which combinations of features and price make commercial sense.
What they're saying: If you listen to Mark Zuckerberg or Meta's marketing pitches, the Quest Pro is designed as a device for "getting work done," whether collaborating in VR meeting rooms or running productivity devices.
- Meta also brought out Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella at Tuesday's event to announce plans to bring Office, Teams and Windows to Quest headsets.
But others, including Meta CTO Andrew Bosworth, acknowledge that the Quest Pro may well appeal to gamers and other tech enthusiasts who want its comfort and power for use in the same kinds of gaming experiences offered on the Quest 2. (Games for that headset can run on the Pro as well.)
- "The system is also the best place to play games, as much as we are focusing on this new audience," Bosworth said, adding that the Quest Pro "is going to take existing experiences that people are having today in VR and make them better."
Zuckerberg acknowledges that the Pro will probably end up with a mix of customers that includes gamers.
- "Who are the ideal customers for this?" Zuckerberg told reporters at a briefing earlier this month. "It's going to be either people who want the highest-end VR device, so enthusiasts or prosumer-type folks, or people who are trying to get work done."
Of note: Meta plans to keep both an entry-level Quest and a Quest Pro model in its lineup for several generations. (A timeline shown to reporters included at least three generations of each product, though no dates were listed.)
- Maintaining two product lines allows Meta to bring some high-end technology into products that are shipping now, while using the entry-level device to broaden the VR market enough to make it attractive to developers.
- Ensuring compatibility between the two lines also positions the Pro to have a wider range of content than it could likely attract on the basis of its own market size. Meta announced today that so far $1.5 billion has been spent on games and apps from the Quest store.
Between the lines: The Quest Pro is something of a tweener device that offers better performance and comfort than most of today's VR devices, but less than some of the dedicated enterprise devices on the market.
- "Think of the Quest Pro as what might happen if the HoloLens 2 and Quest 2 got married, and this was their kid," CNET's Scott Stein wrote.
My thought bubble: Meta's Quest Pro marketing strategy reminds me of when Microsoft used to pitch devices like the Zune or Windows Mobile to a mainstream audience, even when the most likely buyers were tech nerds and other early adopters.
Go deeper: Meta unveils high-end Quest Pro VR headset