Oculus is pulling demo stations for its Rift virtual reality headsets form certain Best Buy stores. While this might be seen by some as confirmation that VR and/or Oculus is struggling, it looks to us like an attempt to maximize success rather than run from failure.
Let’s start with the facts. Yes, Oculus is removing its demo stations from certain Best Buys across the United States. Business Insider puts that number at around 200. However, according to a statement released by Facebook/Oculus, this news may not be as catastrophic as it may appear.
“We’re making some seasonal changes and prioritizing demos at hundreds of Best Buy locations in larger markets,” the statement reads.
Oculus first started running these demos in May with 48 locations. This number then ballooned to 500 locations over the next six months. All of this is consistent with a marketing blitz that a company with significant capital would launch to test demand and explore consumer sentiment for a new product class. In fact, Oculus kicked off December with the Oculus Touch launch, meaning it had every reason to demo the Rift in as many locations as possible through Christmas. It stands to reason then that after this initial glut, said company would move on to focus on its best performing locations once it became clear where the expense of a demo station can no longer be justified.
The Best Buy locations losing their demo stations will also continue selling the Rift. It is not being stripped from anyone’s shelves. According to Facebook, there are still “hundreds” of Best Buys running Rift demos and “[At Oculus we] still believe the best way to learn about VR is through a live demo. We’re going to find opportunities to do regular events and pop ups in retail locations and local communities throughout the year.”
Those interested can visit live.oculus.com to find the closest demo.