Oculus wants to take virtual reality mainstream, but its executives are fully cognizant of the fact that nothing will happen overnight. During an interview with Ars Technica, CEO Brendan Iribe said he envisions the company's first consumer product selling "just north of 1 million units." Out of the gate, "it's not going to be a console-scale market," Iribe admitted. "It always could be, but that's not the goal." Oculus' initial goal is to "set expectations low, get the enthusiasts and early adopters to get into the space," and help push developers to create memorable experiences that you simply can't find elsewhere.
Naturally Facebook was a big part of the discussion, and Iribe was quick to note that the social network's billions won't have much of an impact on the first consumer Rift. The company still isn't saying when that product will be released, only admitting that employees "will be disappointed" if it's not out the door by the end of 2015. But it's apparently too far along now to revisit and revise using Facebook's added resources.
The Oculus Rift may be sold at or near cost when it reaches consumers
Facebook will have influence elsewhere, though, and it's the critical area of pricing. Iribe said that Mark Zuckerberg wants to ignore margins wherever possible and drive down the Rift's cost for consumers in the process. "I do too," Iribe noted. "But at the same time, we were planning to run a business, hopefully a break-even [or] profitable business off of this, not a money-losing business. Mark is much more in the mindset of 'Let's get this to scale with the best quality product at the lowest cost possible.'" The goal seems to be selling virtual reality to consumers at cost — or at least awfully close.
Facebook's deep pockets will also make more of a difference when it comes to designing the second commercial Oculus headset. "It is going to allow us to deliver a much better consumer V2, that's for sure," said Iribe. For now, Iribe is eager to see developers move on from the short, demo-like experiences they've produced for the Rift so far and take things to a new level of immersion. "There's a lot of rich content being made, but we need a lot more of it." Once that's taken care of, the rest should more or less fall into place. "As Mark says, as you start to get to race to scale there are a lot of opportunities to monetize that are really great for consumers, because they get a really low-cost product."