Should Oculus Rift be given for free to its users?

Oculus rift for free

Oculus Rift price

I can still recall when Brendan Iribe said he would want to commercialize the Oculus by giving it away for free. Considering the price of the developer’s version and taking into account rumors published by PC world, it wouldn’t surprise me if the price of the Oculus would end up between 200$ to 400$. I ly hope they will sell it for less or give it away for free.

French Minitel

In the 80’s and 90’s, the French had a device called the Minitel. This piece of technology was pretty impressive: First of all, 6.5 million households had this item in their house. This device was a good precursor of the internet. “From its early days, users could make online purchases, make train reservations, check stock prices, search the telephone directory, have a mailbox, and chat in a similar way that was made possible by the Internet.”

Minitel was a great success in France but a complete failure in other European countries. The only notable difference between France and the other European country is that Minitel was given for free.

Minitel experiment

France Telecom did an experiment concerning the adoption of the device. So they created focus groups and gave them the device for free so they could try it out. Researchers soon realised that the focus groups really enjoyed reading their news and looking up information, but that people had no incentive to buy the product if they’d never tried it out before.

I wonder if this could have been a decisive factor Google Glasses failure.

Business model

To assure Minitel’s success, France Telecom knew it should be given away for free and monetize the device otherwise . So as a telecom company, it made sense to charge a higher price for the connection time. in addition they allowed “applications” to charge users for using their services. In 1998, Minitel generated €832 millions euros in revenue.

Applications that were the most successful in Mintel’s monetization were erotic chat services and dating services. Some of these services even charged up to 1€ (1.3$) per/min at that time.

Oculus Rift for free?

Just like Minitel, Oculus Rift should aim at having a maximum number of users by providing the device for free. Although given the device for free would be a major investment for Oculus, they would at least be able to create massive enthusiasm for the device. This would also benefit developers that have already purchased several models, knowing that their work could be faster exposed to millions of Oculus owners across the world. It would also incentives new game and application developers to join the Oculus movement.

Finding alternative way of monetizing shouldn’t be a problem. Brendan Iribe likes to emphasize how the future will depend on community and crowdfunding (see picture).

Oculus Rift for free

Oculus Rift could have a small monthly fee for using the Oculus to access a  community of users. Another source of revenue

could be to take fees on their marketplace like the Apple store is doing (Apple takes 30% commission on every purchase). 

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