Metaverse will get off to an ominous begin after VR headset gross sales plummet in 2022

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg demonstrates an Oculus Rift digital actuality (VR) headset and Oculus Contact controller throughout the Oculus Join 3 occasion on Thursday October 6, 2016 in San Jose, California, USA.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Pictures

Over a 12 months after his firm’s identify modified to Half and the dedication to spend billions of {dollars} growing the metaverse, Mark Zuckerberg’s wager on digital actuality isn’t any nearer to paying off.

Based on knowledge shared with CNBC by analysis agency NPD Group, U.S. VR headset gross sales fell 2% 12 months over 12 months this 12 months to $1.1 billion in early December. Fb’s promoting enterprise generates that a lot income about each three days.

With the advert enterprise poised for a droop, Zuckerberg has been seeking to VR gear and associated tech to propel Meta into the longer term. Nevertheless, knowledge from analyst agency CCS Perception exhibits that international shipments of VR headsets and augmented actuality gadgets fell greater than 12% 12 months over 12 months to 9.6 million in 2022.

Taken collectively, estimates of VR headset gross sales and shipments paint a troubled image for Meta, whose inventory worth has misplaced about two-thirds of its worth this 12 months. Zuckerberg has mentioned he is enjoying the lengthy recreation with the metaverse, anticipating it to take as much as a decade to turn into mainstream and predicting that it’s going to finally be dwelling to a whole bunch of billions of {dollars} in commerce.

It is not simply meta. Quite a few enterprise corporations and different expertise firms have wager closely on a futuristic world of digital work, training, health and sports activities over the previous decade.

Meta’s Quest 2 headset, which launched in 2020, is a transparent chief within the VR market, in accordance with a number of analysts. Competing gadgets from firms like Valve, hp and Sony symbolize a small a part of the market.

Gross sales of Meta’s flagship Quest gadget fell in 2022, a decline attributed to the gadget’s massive 12 months in 2021, mentioned NPD shopper electronics analyst Ben Arnold.

“VR had an incredible vacation in 2021,” Arnold mentioned, citing varied promotions that helped enhance gross sales of the gadgets at a time when gaming consoles like Sony’s PlayStation 5 had been in brief provide. “Final 12 months was a good time to get one in every of these merchandise and VR completely blew it.”

Based on the NPD, gross sales of VR headsets within the US doubled in 2021 from about $530 million in 2020.

A confluence of things contributed to decrease gross sales and shipments in 2022.

A Brief History of the Metaverse

The Quest 2 has been round for plenty of years and like every shopper electronics gadget, it has misplaced a few of its attraction with age. And whereas Meta launched a brand new VR headset within the fall, the Quest Professional, this gadget is geared in the direction of enterprise and prices $1,100 greater than the Quest 2, making it much more out of attain for a lot of VR fanatics.

Meta determined to extend the Quest 2’s worth by $100 over the summer season, citing inflationary pressures.

Leo Gebbie, an analyst at CCS Perception, mentioned in an e mail that Meta’s worth improve got here as a shock “provided that the corporate was keen to promote the headset at such a low margin to attempt to promote the headset.” Drive adoption of VR and seize excessive market share.”

Meta declined to touch upon VR headset gross sales or third-party estimates.

All eyes on Apple

Subsequent 12 months appears set to be one other “gradual 12 months” for the VR market, CCS Perception mentioned in its newest report, citing a weak economic system and inflation.

Gebbie mentioned that “shopper budgets are getting tighter” and “non-essential purchases like VR headsets are prone to be the casualty of it.”

Sony’s next-gen VR headset will price $550 when it launches in February. Arnold mentioned that whereas the PlayStation VR2 will “give the market a form of enhance,” it most likely will not impression the general VR market as a lot because the Quest 2, since Sony’s gadget requires house owners to have a PlayStation 5 as a method of powering the Headphones.

Sony PlayStation VR2 headset


“Your entire addressable market of PSVR2 will probably be PlayStation house owners,” Arnold mentioned.

A giant query for subsequent 12 months stays whether or not Applehow lengthy has been rumored will reveal a VR headset.

Apple might create a compelling VR headset with an accompanying software program ecosystem, Arnold mentioned.

Moreover, Apple’s popularity as a pacesetter in shopper tech might add a spark to the ailing VR market and make the tech extra interesting to most people.

“If there’s one firm able to reworking the VR market in a single day, it is Apple,” mentioned Gebbie. “With its tremendously loyal fan base, lots of whom are keen to spend giant sums of cash on expertise, we anticipate that if Apple had been to convey a headset to market, it might do very effectively.”

Apple is reportedly constructing a VR headset with AR capabilities for a launch as early as 2023.

Eric Abbruzzese, analysis director at ABI Analysis, mentioned Apple could possibly be profitable in launching a VR headset geared in the direction of enterprise, which might doubtless assist appeal to builders to the group. However the excessive worth of an enterprise VR headset, which might doubtless price a number of thousand {dollars}, would nonetheless make it troublesome for Apple to maneuver the needle, Abbruzzese mentioned.

“It most likely will not even ship 5 million models within the first 12 months,” Abruzzese mentioned of an Apple Enterprise VR headset. “However it’s the primary notable product from a big established expertise firm.”

Apple didn’t reply to a request for remark.

One main factor the VR world is lacking is a breakout hit or killer app.

Some video games have discovered traction, like musical rhythm recreation Beat Saber and VR variations of widespread titles like Resident Evil, Abbruzzese mentioned. And a few customers are exhibiting extra curiosity in utilizing VR for health actions.

However within the console market, blockbuster video games like FIFA and Name of Obligation would “ship a whole bunch of hundreds of thousands of merchandise,” he mentioned.

In the meantime, Meta’s Horizon Worlds social VR platform continues to be within the experimental part.

“The one Metaverse product actually is Horizon and it isn’t good proper now,” Abruzzese mentioned.

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