Fourteen years after Facebook withdrew operations from China, the company is heading back into the market. As reported by The Wall Street Journal, the company has reached a preliminary deal with Chinese gaming giant Tencent that will bring the company back to Chinese customers.
While the company is re-entering China, it doesn’t appear that it will be doing so with Facebook — at least at first. According to the report, the first product that Meta will offer to customers in China will be a new low-cost version of its Quest headset.
While details about the headset are unclear, there are rumors that it will pack a lower resolution display when compared to the Quest 3 but come with a more powerful GPU than the last generation Quest 2. The report says that sales of the low-cost headset will begin in “late 2024” but we don’t yet know what pricing will look like.
The agreement with Tencent Holdings will make the world’s largest videogame company the exclusive seller of Meta’s headsets in China, people familiar with the matter said, offering the U.S. technology giant a major new market as it looks to boost tepid global demand for its niche gear. Tencent will start selling the headset beginning late 2024, with the two companies reaching a deal after about a year of negotiations.
The announcement comes as Meta recently launched its new Quest 3 mixed reality headset. The Quest 3 is a big update compared to the Quest 2, especially since it can achieve full color passthrough mixed reality. It features a 40% slimmer optic profile and, while it is slightly heavier than the previous generation, is supposed to still be more comfortable to wear due to its better weight distribution. The headset features a display of 2064 x 2208 pixels per eye, a bump compared to the Quest 2’s resolution of 1832 x 1920 pixels. It also packs new built-in speakers.
The Quest 3 comes packed with the second generation of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon XR2 processor, which the company says is twice as performant as the second-generation headset which uses the first-gen XR2. It is expected to achieve between two to three hours of battery life, features removable batteries in the redesigned controllers, and can also pair with the company’s new optional charging dock.
While I’m interested to see what Meta can accomplish with a lower-cost headset in China and other markets, I’m personally okay with the price the company has set for the Meta Quest 3. It’s an impressive headset and a big upgrade over the Quest 2 which I also owned. It is also astonishingly seven times cheaper than Apple’s upcoming Vision Pro headset — making it by far the best value in VR and AR.
The Meta Quest 3 launched on October 10th and starts at $499 for the 128GB configuration or $649 for the 512GB configuration. We’ll have to see what the low-cost model costs in China and the “other markets” that Meta plans to sell it as we get into next year. Perhaps we’ll have another Quest announcement at Meta’s Connect event in September 2024!
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