In preparation for the upcoming holiday shopping season, Best Buy Co Inc. (BBY) has begun providing in-person demonstrations of Facebook’s (FB) virtual reality system in stores. The retailer has announced it will roll out demonstrations of Facebook’s Occulus Rift at 500 locations across the United States.
Best Buy also plans to run demos of Sony’s PlayStation VR in 200 rotating locations after the product’s release this October. Since VR is largely experiential (many say costumers must experience it to want it), demos are particularly important for the budding industry. A successful holiday season trial run at the leading U.S. retailer could add a premium to the $1 billion in virtual reality device sales Bloomberg News has anticipated for 2016 alone.
Virtual Reality’s First Major Market Debut
The anticipated Best Buy debut will serve as one of VR’s first large-scale market tests, determining how much investment and effort will pour into VR moving forward. Recently, a growing number of small- and large-tech companies, alike, have entered the booming virtual reality space. As a result, the new devices will eventually drop in price and become more accessible to the average consumer, as personified by the Best Buy holiday shopper. While the Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR are both reliant on relatively expensive hardware and related equipment, Google (GOOG) is already working on releasing a more consumer-friendly mobile virtual reality platform, named Daydream. (See also: Google Hires YouTube Stars to Promote New ‘Daydream’ Virtual Reality Platform.)
Best Buy is betting on virtual reality to provide a substantial portion of the big box retailer’s accessory sales, and to further a resurgence in the high-end PC market during the critical holiday season, when retailers typically realize their biggest sales volume.
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