Quest 2: Meta's VR ecosystem may have reached major milestone
Meta has very likely sold more than ten million VR goggles - reaching a milestone it set itself. Is an earlier growth prediction by Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg now coming true?
In the fall of 2017, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was still thinking in gigantic terms and perhaps a little too much about the stock market: one billion people should put on VR goggles in the future, he announced at the Oculus VR developer conference. However, he did not give a time frame for this big goal.
That his push was perhaps a bit too visionary in light of the many reports of rather poor sales figures for VR glasses, which Facebook was also unable or unwilling to dispel with facts to the contrary, became apparent in the following year: Zuckerberg pulled in an achievable interim goal of ten million users in the VR ecosystem.
Current estimates on Meta's VR sales figures.
What is clear is that since the launch of the standalone Quest glasses, Meta aka Facebook has achieved significantly better sales figures than previously in the PC VR market. Even the first Quest version sold faster than any other VR glasses. Quest 2 is significantly outselling its predecessor in the current holiday shopping season.
Sounds good, but what does that mean in numbers?
Market researchers at IDC estimate that Meta will have sold between 5.3 and 6.8 million VR goggles in 2021. In 2020, Meta is expected to have sold about 3.5 million VR goggles. IDC says it surveys retailers and consumers in more than 100 countries and draws on hundreds of data sets maintained by a global market research network.
Meta's chip supplier Qualcomm reported ten million Quest 2 glasses sold so far in December 2021 alone, although the company says it also sourced that data from market researchers. Qualcomm, however, will know pretty much exactly how many chips Meta has ordered. Communication policy is likely to have played a role here.
In addition, there are sales of previous models such as the video goggles Oculus Go and the discontinued PC VR goggles Oculus Rift, which also brought users into the Oculus ecosystem.
VR milestone reached: Is the "explosion" coming?
The self-set mark of ten million users in the Oculus ecosystem Meta should have cracked pretty safely. Is the "explosive" growth of the VR market predicted by Mark Zuckerberg in 2018 now coming?
At the time, the Meta CEO assumed that the ecosystem would really take off once the magic ten-million mark is reached: it would be worthwhile for studios to invest in higher-quality content, which in turn would attract more users.
"Once we reach and pass that threshold, content and the ecosystem will explode," Zuckerberg said in 2018, repeating a similar statement in subsequent years.
Has the big goal now been reached?
It's likely that the second layer of complexity will open up in the coming months: Are the many buyers donning VR goggles and buying apps regularly? Or was Quest 2 simply an interesting Christmas present, a second Wii Sports in a time of chip shortage when alternative gifts like the Playstation 5 were hardly available?
So, when Meta officially reports VR data for the first time later this month, we should pay particular attention to whether the group talks about ecosystem activity alongside sales figures and revenue. After all, this metric is more important to the future of VR than pure hardware sales numbers. The latter is much easier to scale in comparison to the lasting interest of people in VR glasses.
From the perspective of Meta's investors, and by extension the VR industry, it is desirable that the billions invested in virtual reality translate into at least significant qualitative growth that promises high income in the future. If investors are happy with the development and thus encourage Meta in its plans, Meta's XR ecosystem can continue to thrive.
However, it would be even better for the VR industry if at least a second company besides Meta would seriously consider the VR market. Currently, Sony alone seems to be on the starting line here with Playstation VR 2.