And the results aren’t particularly close.
Mark Zuckerberg has called mixed reality “the holy grail.”
One-fifth of his fiefdom—10,000+ employees—work in Facebook’s Reality Labs division. And in terms of consumer virtual reality hardware, its Oculus line is the category leader: Nielsen’s now-defunct gaming group SuperData projected the Oculus Quest 2 would account for 87% of all VR headset sales in 2021.
The only problem?
According to a June 2021 Morning Brew-Harris Poll survey, US consumers would prefer to purchase AR/VR hardware from Apple, Google, Samsung, Amazon, or Microsoft before purchasing from FB. And it’s not particularly close:
Of these companies, Apple, Samsung, and Microsoft are working on consumer AR/VR devices. There’s a host of other competitors playing here as well, like LG, PlayStation, its parent Sony, HTC, and Vuzix.
Facebook’s virtual reality headsets do have a recognizable standalone brand of their own in Oculus, but the company has made a series of moves over the last year that signal its desire for consumers to view the hardware as part of the FB family.
- Last August, it was announced that Oculus users will eventually need to have Facebook accounts in order to use the devices.
- In the same month, the company rebranded its mixed reality division from Oculus to Facebook Reality Labs, but maintained the Oculus brand as a product name.
Bringing Oculus more explicitly under the Facbook umbrella could backfire. Consumers have shown a strong preference for an AR/VR device from Apple over FB, with 35% naming Apple as their first choice, compared to just 5% for Facebook, according to data from our Morning Brew-Harris Poll. And more general brand trust surveys consistently show that consumers trust Apple more.
A nightmare for FB? Apple CEO Tim Cook also seems to think AR and VR are the next big thing, and his company is the runaway favorite for future products in this space. If Apple can figure out how to ship a good device—aka…do what Apple does best—it could overtake Facebook’s Oculus.—DM