The Oculus Rift price reduction is causing quite a stir in the VR community. The reactions, both good and bad, might be an indication that the perceived value of the product is out of balance.
Value is a simple equation: Cost divided by Usefulness.
Notice that the equation uses cost, not price.
Price is something very measurable. A company can determine how much money it takes to produce a product, add a bit of profit, and determine a price. Price may also include adjustments for marketing, shelf space in stores, and other behind-the-scenes variables.
Cost is so more than price. Cost includes time and effort. When you purchase a new piece of tech, there will always be an adjustment period where you gain the skills to use it properly. This takes time, and depending on the complexity of the new tech, it may require a decent amount of effort and determination.
New tech scares some people, and new tech always has a high initial cost. This should not be shocking news to anyone.
Usefulness is a vague, immeasurable term. It is relative to the perceiver, and therefore has a different definition for each person. For example, what is useful to a house painter, may not be as useful to a farmer. Then again, both of these people rely on good weather, so a tool that predicts rain would have equal usefulness to both.
The nice thing about usefulness, similar to price, is that it can be changed. The best way to increase usefulness is to create more relevant content. Not all content will appeal to every person though. There needs to be a flood of diverse content, engaging multiple groups, to truly impact usefulness for everyone.
When the average consumer hears about VR, they are immediately considering value.
They ask themselves several questions:
Can I afford it? (Price)
Do I want to put the time and effort into learning how to use it? (Cost)
Do I need it? What will I do with it? (Usefulness)
By slashing the price of their kit, Facebook/Oculus is changing one part of the equation. Value is different for everyone, but this will increase the chances that an average consumer might consider buying VR in the near future. Luckily, there is also a healthy flow of content that will continue to change the equation.
We need to find the balance.
If you are reading this blog, then you already put a high value on VR. It is our job to help others see the value as well.