The world’s largest social network is now open for pre-orders for the Oculus Rift 3-D gaming headset ($599 in the United States, €699 outside the United States). This the first time social network giant is selling hardware.
The virtual reality technology make users submerge into an illusion they are present in a digital world. Facebook bought Oculus VR, the company that makes the devices, for $2 billion in July 2014.
For the customers based in the United States, prices for the headset start at $599 and are aimed at gaming enthusiasts, online gaming developers, virtual reality devotees and other early adopters willing to pay a premium to be among the first to own the devices, Colin Sebastian, analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co., says in a note to investors. By comparison, video game consoles PS4 and Xbox One sell for about $300.
The Facebook ordering site says initial shipments of the Rift headset and system will begin on March 28, but strong early demand could push deliveries back to May, Sebastian says. On Thursday, the Oculus Rift site said orders were limited to one per customers and expected to ship in June.
The Rift will be sold in 20 countries, which include Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, United Kingdom and the United States.
However, customers might expect to pay at least $1,500 for both the headset and a computer to enjoy technology at its best. The Rift is shipped with a sensor, an Xbox One controller and built-in headphones and microphone; its Touch controller is expected to be shipped later in the year.
Analysts say they expect Facebook to sell a few hundred thousand units this year but to take a loss on the product as Facebook will spend a lot of money on hardware, content and marketing.
While online gaming is the initial Rift market, the technology has the potential to serve as a platform for other applications in e-commerce, education, communications and health care, Sebastian concludes.