Facebook, Oculus and the Future of VR

After Facebook bought Oculus for the round sum of two billion dollars, the world has assumed that Facebook has a clear vision and plan for how to benefit from one of the frontrunners in virtual reality. Since then Oculus has continued to improve its VR headset with the first release of the final product just around the corner. So far so good.

Facebook Oculus

Now it seems that the various execs have very different feelings about what is good for VR and when it will revolutionize the market. As it turns out, the recent month has been very interesting at Facebook / Oculus, to say the least. Here is a short summary of what is going on.

  • Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook appeared at the Samsung reveal of the Galaxy S7 to praise the development of the Gear VR and how it soon will add “HD 360° virtual reality broadcasting is coming “soon”, even though there are challenges to solve. Of course he also praised OLED, as the best display technology for virtual reality. For the full report see our article “Samsung Chooses VR, Cameras and Gaming”.
  • In an interview with the German newspaper “Die Welt am Sonntag” in Berlin, Germany, as published by the Business Insider, Zuckerberg stated that he thinks that VR has a short term goal that includes some gaming and virtual reality video as well as a long term goal of becoming a major part of consumer electronics. This long term goal could be 10 to 20 years away, even though he thinks that it is more like 10 years. He did mention that consumers have already consumed over 1 million hours of virtual reality video on the Samsung Gear VR.
  • Oculus co-founder, Palmer Luckey seems to be a little more pessimistic about the use of VR in social media, as he pointed out in a recent interview with Fortune magazine. As he explains in the article, today social media is a mainly asynchronous form of connection, while the interaction of two people in the virtual reality would require both of them being on-line at the same time. He sees this as a fundamental difference between the two media and a barrier for combining both.

These are all statements from the same company so to speak; now imagine how different companies will view the same topic. Of course, it also shows how the initial investment of Facebook was driven more by a general vision than a business analysis. This may be one of the reasons why younger companies seem to have an advantage in entering new markets compared to established companies. Of course we do not count the many start-up companies that fail in the market as they focused on a product or technology that ultimately did not make it in the broader market. – NH

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