Meta Quest 3 Is Unveiled Just Ahead of Apple’s WWDC 2023

The Meta Quest 3 is a thinner, wireless AR/VR headset that will sell for $499 beginning this fall. Meta Platforms CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed the device last week ahead of Apple’s WWDC, taking place today through Friday (during today’s WWDC keynote, Apple announced its visionOS software platform for the company’s much anticipated Vision Pro headset). Powered by a new Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset developed in conjunction with Meta, Zuckerberg describes the Quest 3 as “the first mainstream headset with high-res color mixed reality” and promises more details at Meta Connect, September 27-28.

The Quest 3 will be 40 percent thinner than its predecessor, with 2x the graphics performance, Zuckerberg announced on his Instagram, adding that it is “compatible with Quest 2’s entire library with more titles coming,”

That was followed by a post on the Meta Quest Blog in which Meta VP of VR Mark Rabkin said the Quest 3 is “going beyond the rigid classifications of ‘virtual reality’ and ‘mixed reality’ to deliver truly next-gen experiences that let you effortlessly blend the physical and virtual worlds,” for a form of AR the company is calling “Meta Reality.”

The 128GB Quest 3 headset will ship globally, with additional storage available “for those who want some extra space,” the blog post explains.

Enthusiasts of Meta’s “year of efficiency” have been critical of Zuckerberg’s vision of a global metaverse — specifically the billions spent developing the headsets and the market (a $4 billion loss in Q1 alone). However, on Meta’s April earnings call Zuckerberg reaffirmed his commitment to the metaverse and artificial intelligence, emphasizing the two are interrelated.

“Mixed reality is built on a stack of AI technologies for understanding the physical world and blending it with digital objects. Being able to procedurally generate worlds will be important for delivering compelling experiences at scale,” Zuckerberg said on the call.

The Wall Street Journal cites IDC numbers indicating “shipments for the AR and VR headset market declined by 54 percent during the first three months of 2023 compared with the same period last year,” a decline attributed to demand having “cooled from highs seen at the start of the pandemic.”

During Q1, Meta continued to dominate the consumer sector according to WSJ, which says the company “controlled about 48 percent of the market share among AR and VR headset makers, followed by Sony’s PlayStation VR2 with 36 percent,” according to IDC’s latest numbers (which links to a global vendor top 5 that puts ByteDance’s Pico third, at roughly 6 percent).

Wired speculates that if Apple enters the fray it could juice the consumer headset market, saying even the rumors of a reveal “sent competitors into a frenzy,” with the aforementioned Meta announcement and Lenovo’s May 30 launch of the new ThinkReality VRX.

Today, Apple revealed the Vision Pro will cost $3,499 when it launches next year. That puts the device in the range of Microsoft’s B2B HoloLens 2 (starting at $3,500).

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