Do you remember my first impressions review of the Vive Pro? Well, it lacked an important information that still wasn’t revealed at that time: the price of the headset and of its full bundle.
Today, finally, we have all the pricing info that we need. Thanks to Road To VR, we know the price of the full bundle of the Vive Pro headset: $1399.
This means that the purchase options for the Pro are these ones:
- Headset only (so that you can use it with your already existing Vive 1 lighthouse and controllers): $799
- Headset + v1 Lighthouse and controllers: $1099 (limited offer)
- Headset + v2 Lighthourse and controllers: $1399
Of course, these are US prices: here in Italy, the headset only costs €879 and all other bundles are more expensive because of taxes (damn taxes).
So, if you want to exploit the full functionalities of the Vive Pro, you have to spend $1399. It is really a high price: with that price, you can buy 3 Rifts and still have $200 to buy your games. Or you can buy a Rift + a VR-ready PC. Or you can buy 100 cardboards. Is it really worth that price?
Well, technically speaking, if we look at the competition, for the average consumer the answer is “maybe no”. The features of the Vive Pro are superior to the ones of any other headset currently on the market, but for instance, the Samsung Odyssey, that has similar features, costs only $499. Again, for the price of the Pro, you can buy 2 Odyssey + a Lenovo Explorer headset.
So, why this high price? As I’ve told in some previous posts of mine, it is all matter of market positioning: HTC wants to position its device as a premium device, not as a consumer one. When I think about this stuff, I always remind the beginning of my startup experience, when I and my partner were talking with a tutor about a possible products for kitchens (it was even before I started working in VR) and he told us that we should decide if making it a consumer product or a premium product: if it was a consumer product, it should be the cheapest possible, otherwise if it were a premium product, we should invest in branding, quality and set an artificially high price. Selling a Ferrari at 200.000€ or 250.000€ makes no difference for people that can afford it while selling a Fiat for 10.000€ or 20.000€ makes a big difference for people that will buy it. This is the same that surely has happened to the Pro: selling it at $1100 or $1400 makes no difference for the target market of this device. Both are impossible prices for us, that maybe buy the Rift because it is $100 cheaper than the Vive 1.
The reason for this positioning, IMHO, is that HTC knows that for most people current headsets are enough for standard use: the more is always better, but a WMR toaster or an Oculus Rift CV1 gives a good enough experience. So, the choice was surely the one of selling it to enthusiasts at $700- $800 for the full bundle and see most people continue buying the other headsets because much cheaper (Oculus has shown us that people look a lot at price: it is continuously gaining market shares because it is cheaper than the Vive, while giving more or less the same experience), or declaring it a premium product and selling it at a very high price to less people. There was a third choice: selling it under cost at $400, but Mister President has always told that HTC Vive bets on quality and not on price and so this possibility was contrary to the company’s values. So, they chose the second road and the resulting super-high price, unaffordable for us all. Could the Vive Pro cost less? On a technical side, for sure. But from a business side, this is most probably the right price to fulfill its strategy. Of course, I’m not happy with that, because this means that I myself can’t afford it, but I can understand the choice.
The headset is positioned to be compelling for professionals, offering them a high quality product for a high price. For them the features may be worth the price, since the Pro has very interesting ones:
- A high quality and very comfortable product;
- High-end features like high-def integrated audio;
- SteamVR tracking 2.0 that is more resistant to interferences and that allows to track a large area;
- High-resolution so that it is possible to read text inside it;
- AR features to use the device as a mixed reality one (thanks to Vive SRWorks SDK).
The quality and comfort are very important for professionals; the tracking is important for arcade owners; the AR features are great for R&D departments. When Enea Le Fons has made 30 days in VR, he used the Pro because of the added comfort that let him also live 20 hours in a day in VR; similarly, the guy spending 42 consecutive hours playing Skyrim VR used the Vive Pro to be more comfortable during this world record.
Are these features something that we’d like to have? Yes. Are these features fundamental to our VR experiences? Mostly not, that’s why if someone asks me what headset to buy to enter VR and play some games, I usually point him/her to a Rift or a WMR device. Only when professionals ask for advice, I talk them about the Pro, because some features are really worth the price if you work in certain environments. Otherwise, for the same price, just buy VR headsets for all your family.
There is another question that people always make me: since the Pro is a professional device… has it the professional license? Today we know the answer: no. To have business license, you have to buy an additional package called “Enterprise Advantage“, that Vive has just announced. Actually, there are two tiers of this Enterprise Advantage program, that cost $199.99 and $299.99 (come on, $200 and $300!), but that basically offer you the same kind of features, that is:
- business licensing;
- 2 years warranty;
- Fast support;
- Fast repair service for your device.
These features are fundamental if you plan to use the Vive Pro in your everyday business, for instance in an arcade. You can’t close your business while you wait for someone to come and repair your device: you must have things fixed immediately.
So, to have a full Vive Pro with Advantage+ Business license, you spend in the end something like $1700. For a comparison, the Vive 1 Business edition was $1200. Oculus for business costs $900. And the Hololens business costs $5000.
Again, for one Vive Pro business, you can almost buy two Oculus for business. Is it worth the price? Well, I think that here depends on what do we mean for “business” and how big is the company. If I had an arcade or a research center and so I had some budget to spend, most probably I’d go for the Pro and not the Rift, because of the SteamVR tracking 2.0 power and the AR features, with which a lot of interesting things can be made. If I had to make an installation for a customer that has a tight budget, I’d go for the Rift that costs less. As always, there is not a one-size-fits-all solution, it depends on the situation.
I hope to have clarified you my opinion on this headset and his price and his business licensing model. If you liked this editorial, why don’t you subscribe to my newsletter? It doesn’t cost $1400…
(Header image was taken from VR Focus)
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