3 min read

Meta is Selling Headsets But Can’t Buy Anyone’s Time

I paid $1500 for a Meta Quest Pro headset at the end of last year and less than half a year later, they dropped the price to $1000. Not exactly a good way to keep customers loyal and feeling good about their purchase.

Meta has made the metaverse less of a priority, as I covered in Everydays 172. So you’d think it’s because they’re not seeing much success on the sales front. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

WTF? Meta has sold 20m headsets

Meta has sold nearly 20 million Quest headsets, but the company continues to struggle with keeping customers using VR.

According to a report by The Verge, citing an internal Meta presentation held today, the company has sold nearly 20 million Quest headsets. This likely includes Quest 1, Quest 2, and Quest Pro, though by all accounts Quest 2 appears to be the vast majority. And while the figure wasn’t publicly announced, this would be the first official confirmation of Quest unit sales from the company.

This info was shared by Mark Rabkin, Meta’s VP of VR, during an internal presentation to “thousands” of employees.

And while the 20 million unit Quest sales figure is impressive—and well beyond any other single VR headset maker—Rabkin went on to stress that the company has to do a better job at keeping customers using the headsets well after their purchase.

“We need to be better at growth and retention and resurrection,” he said. “We need to be better at social and actually make those things more reliable, more intuitive so people can count on it.” – The Verge

Meta’s problem is not sales. It’s usage. Only 1 in 10 users reportedly return to its Horizon metaverse platform after a month. These headsets are collecting dust already.

This reminds me of a Redditor who commented about how the Quest 2 is a Wii, not a PS5:

The Quest 2 is a console that surprisingly sold much more than expected. It's standalone concept makes it much cheaper, simpler and casual-friendly than PCVR was before.

So it's sold based on the wow factor of VR, combined with it's simplicity of usage.

But that casual-appeal is at the same time a bit of a weakness. Like the Wii, most people only play the equivalent of Wii Sports (so, Beat Saber and a handful of free Oculus demos), and then it's put on a shelf collecting dust.

This casual-appeal is also a difficulty for the successor. There are Wiis out there that have been the main/only console in the household for almost two decades now. But most people who own a Wii didn't understand the difference between the Wii and the Wii U, and certainly didn't see a reason to upgrade.

Casuals usually don't follow the console upgrade cycle, because they don't care about newer games or better capabilities. Wii Sports was working exactly as fine on the Wii in 2012 as it was in 2006. I feel the Quest 2 has a similar issue.

It made me think about what experiences I enjoy in my Meta Quest Pro. The things that keep me coming back to the headset are:

  1. Language Learning via Language Lab – As most know, I spend my free time learning languages. At the moment, that's Japanese. I prefer self-study, which is why Language Lab is a good refresher from the Duolingos and Rosetta Stones.
  2. Watching Immersive 360 Content – There are tons of new videos created using 360 immersive cameras. Some of my favorite videos are The Soloist and This Walk in Shinjuku.
  3. Visiting Museums – This is the most underrated use case of the metaverse because of the ability to bring first-hand knowledge, relics, and artifacts to our living rooms that we used to have to travel long distances to witness. The Grand Museum VR, The Kremer Collection VR, Space Engine, and Mona Lisa: Beyond The Glass are great examples of what’s possible.
  4. Improving Communication Skills – It’s much easier to practice public speaking in a simulated environment. Use VirtualSpeech to build your public speaking soft skills and confidence.
  5. Learn To Play The Piano or DJPianoVision is helping people learn how to play the Piano by using passthrough AR and hand tracking on the Quest Pro. If learning how to play the Piano isn’t your thing, you can use Tribe XR to learn how to DJ using digital replicas of real equipment.

Overall, my opinion of the Meta Quest Pro hasn’t changed. (See my detailed opinion on the Meta Quest Pro in Everydays 55.) And I still wouldn’t recommend it over the Quest 2 model.