Customers purchasing Oculus Quest 2 through enterprise sales channels can now choose to pick up the consumer and enterprise editions of the headset
A subtle but important shift in policy at Facebook’s Oculus promises to give businesses and developers a route into virtual reality that better suits their individual needs.
Oculus reported earlier this week that a number of its Oculus for Business customers and independent software vendors (ISVs) have had to delay deployments or adjust development plans as a result of Covid-19.
In response, Oculus made changes to the Oculus for Business programme, most notably that customers purchasing Oculus Quest 2 through its enterprise sales channels can choose to pick up the consumer and enterprise editions of the headset. New terms were also introduced to enable the commercial use of the consumer edition.
What does this mean for previously troubled enterprise customers and ISVs? The former get more options for purchasing and deploying virtual reality for work, while the latter have the opportunity to make their apps available to a wider audience.
Oculus says enterprise customers may not necessarily want to use virtual reality in the ways envisioned by Oculus for Business, such as quickly deploying a pilot programme using apps from the consumer app store, using built-in consumer features as part of their virtual reality solution, or even enabling their employees to play popular games like Beat Saber so they can get comfortable with the experience and mechanics of virtual reality.
Being able to use consumer editions of Oculus Quest 2 gives the enterprise market another level on which to step into virtual reality, significantly lower than the $799 subscription currently required for a year’s access to Oculus for Business (which costs $140 per device for each subsequent year, although Oculus has waived that in 2021 for existing subscribers).
For ISVs, they now have greater flexibility with which to deliver their apps to both consumers and enterprise customers, an important step that follows the launch of App Lab earlier this month.
Cheaper virtual reality hardware is creating something of a level playing field
As I said, this a subtle but important shift in policy and is one that signals the maturing of a platform that reportedly sold two to three million Oculus Quest 2 headsets in Q4 2021 (read the full report from the ever impressive Road to VR).
This is excellent news, at a time when cheaper virtual reality hardware is creating something of a level playing field in certain industries and sectors, such as design.
An expert on the subject told me this week that one of the most exciting things about virtual reality is that it can “democratise design concepts”.
Larger firms traditionally have the means for better visualisation to communicate design intent and get client buy-in. With the arrival of cheaper, quality virtual reality, it’s much easier for smaller firms to express their design ideas, collaborate virtually, and generally experience more efficiency in their client feedback cycle.
Of course, several barriers remain where Oculus is concerned, including the decision to require new Oculus Quest users to have a Facebook account when they sign up, a matter that may complicate enterprise take up of the consumer edition option going forward.
One enterprise Oculus Quest 2 user told me recently that the requirement to connect a Facebook account may have data protection implications that their organisation cannot tolerate in the long term, and so they may look for headset alternatives. It’s worth noting here that Oculus for Business does not require a Facebook account.
Still, any hardware companies in the virtual reality space would do well to investigate this issue further and capitalise on an increasing worry.