03 Feb The Oculus Quest Supply Situation Does A Disservice To The VR Community And Developers
Many people are excited about buying the Oculus Quest—for many it will be their first VR headset. While it will be one of many for me, this one certainly is different. The Oculus Quest represents all that is needed from a VR headset and backs it up with a very solid library of titles and experiences. Some have questioned Facebook’s intentions with the Quest and the potential for data mining among other things. However, none of those things matter in the grand scheme of things if the Oculus Quest isn’t in people’s hands. Unfortunately it’s running into some problems there—let’s take a closer look.
The Oculus Quest went on sale May 21st last year. I pre-ordered mine before that day and have enjoyed it since May 21st. I knew what promise this platform had and how it could be used effectively for VR evangelism. The bulk of sales always happen in the fourth quarter for most consumer electronics, and once Q4 rolled around, the Quest ad campaign went live across all platforms. The ad featured a confusing Eric Wareheim advertisement featuring Oculus’ most popular game, Beatsaber (which the company recently acquired). Like last year’s launch of the Oculus Go, Facebook waited until well into the quarter to run its ad campaign—a lost opportunity for the company in my opinion.
The other main criticism I have is that the company had many months to anticipate market demand and build up a stockpile of headsets to meet it, and it clearly did not. In December the US, places like Amazon and Gamestop were sold out of the 128GB model for weeks. Walmart and Best Buy were out of stock for a while and recently ran out again. While I’m not fully aware of Oculus’ international stock situation, I’m perplexed it isn’t sold out in Canada—there, most Best Buys still have both versions of the headset in stock and Amazon Canada and Newegg Canada still have the 128GB. At this point, I’m not sure what to think—either Facebook didn’t advertise heavily enough in Canada or it completely miscalculated demand here as well. I suspect it’s more of the former than the latter.
In Europe, many places like Amazon.de are out of stock of the 64GB, though the 128GB is still available in some places. Retailers like MediaMarkt in Germany have the Quest in stock—the 128GB appears ready to ship, while the 64GB requires a few days for delivery. MediaMarkt is relevant because it is the largest retailer of electronics in Europe. Fnac in France appears to have both versions of the headset available but at a much higher price than retail. The 64GB sells for 200 Euros more than the 128GB, because of its higher demand.
Currently, Oculus is showing a March 2nd ship date for the 64GB Quest on its site and February 28th for the 128GB model—both dates over a month and a half out from the time of this writing.
Fundamentally, these stock issues either represent a mismanagement of resources or poor planning around the demand for the Oculus Quest. Facebook’s ad campaign in the US is aggressive and prominent and I believe it did a good job of selling the platform (even if I didn’t particularly care for the ad). However, by selling out rather than seeding as many headsets as possible, the company hurt the size of its install base. This will inevitably affect how developers approach the platform. I’m really hoping that the people who want an Oculus Quest can get one for a reasonable price, but I know plenty of friends of mine who had hoped to buy one over the holidays. Now they can’t and that’s really a shame.