Furthering its association with Oculus – the Virtual Reality (VR) company that Google acquired in 2014 – Facebook has announced the launch of a new VR headset in China, in partnership with the Chinese phone-making giant Xiaomi. Christened as Mi VR Standalone, this headphone packs several goodies for both the public as well as Facebook.
This headphone is basically the same as Oculus Go, which was launched in October 2017; the only difference lies in the fact that the software is now provided by Xiaomi. Targeted exclusively at the Chinese market, it would incorporate a Qualcomm chip and the mobile software bundle of Oculus. Further details regarding the launch date and price-points of this new headset are yet to be announced.
The first product designed and launched by Oculus in March 2016, was the Oculus Rift – it is a significantly expensive product and needs to be plugged into a smartphone or an expensive personal computer. Its successor – the Oculus Go – announced in October 2017 – was widely believed to be priced in the neighborhood of $199.
The launch of the new VR device proves Facebook’s aim of diversifying its VR portfolio across all price-points and user base. These headsets will no longer be restricted to hard-core gamers and VR enthusiasts alone. People who prefer a more detailed experience without emptying their pockets can now afford something like the Oculus Go.
This product serves a twofold purpose for Facebook too. The company has to battle severe censorship issues in China, making it very difficult to build and grow business in this region. Mi VR – although being an Oculus product – comes under the flagship of Facebook. This will allow the company to make inroads into the Chinese market, bypassing the contentious issues of collation and storage of user-related data.
Secondly, targeting the most populous country in the world is one of the surest ways of Facebook meeting its goal of looping in a billion people into the world of virtual reality, as declared by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in the Oculus Connect meet held in October 2017. The public’s response to this product is thus worth watching out for, in a market which is fast adapting itself to rising trend of VR.