Meta Platforms, the parent company of social media giants Facebook and Instagram, has cut the prices of its Quest virtual and mixed-reality headsets, in a move to boost lagging sales.
The company cut the price of the high-end Quest Pro by a third to $1,000 from $1,500, while the Quest 2 is now down to $430 from $500, a 14 per cent reduction, the California-based company said in a blog post on Friday.
"Our goal has always been to create hardware that’s affordable for as many people as possible to take advantage of all that VR has to offer," Meta said.
"VR is a powerful social platform and creative technology, and the more people with access to it, the better."
The price changes will take effect on Sunday in 20 countries, the company said.
Meta's push into VR is part of chief executive Mark Zuckerberg's vision of a widely digital future, and key to his broader plans for the metaverse.
The metaverse, based on Web3, is the virtual space where people represented by avatars can interact. It is also poised to reshape workplaces and businesses by using new techniques to streamline operations.
The global VR market is projected to hit $227.34 billion by 2029, from an estimated $16.67 billion in 2022, at a compound annual growth rate of more than 45 per cent, according to Fortune Business Insights.
The price cut for the Quest Pro, in particular, comes a few months after it was released, in October. It was geared towards a higher-end market, with Mr Zuckerberg having touted it to the media as a "work-focused" device.
However, it still had a high price tag. Its original cost was more expensive than the highest-end Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy S devices.
The Quest 2, meanwhile, was launched in 2020, before Facebook was rebranded to Meta. While it became popular with its more affordable price tag, selling more than 15 million units, sales fell in 2022.
That resulted in Meta's Reality Labs unit, which manages its VR and metaverse operations, to lose $13.7 billion in 2022, with revenue in the fourth quarter alone declining 17 per cent on an annual basis.
In either case, VR headsets remain a niche market. Even Mr Zuckerberg's metaverse worlds have received criticism for being underdeveloped and underwhelming.
Meta's struggles were reflected last month when it reported a 55 per cent annual drop in fourth-quarter net profit, underpinned by escalating costs and a decrease in the average price per advertisement. The company posted a net profit of more than $4.6 billion in three months ended December.
Last week, The Washington Post reported that Meta was planning another round of job cuts, with “thousands” of workers expected to be affected.
The cost-cutting measures include pushing some managers into lower-level roles, flattening the layers of management between Mr Zuckerberg and the company’s interns, the Post said, citing an unnamed source.