Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is convinced that virtual reality will change the world. But for investors waiting for his $3 billion bet on the technology to pay off, Zuckerberg has one word: patience.
When asked about Facebook’s VR and augmented reality efforts during a conference call on Wednesday, Zuckerberg admitted that “we’re a little behind from where we want to be.”
He said that the delayed shipments of the company’s Oculus Rift VR headset and touch controllers were a “disappointment,” and that VR sales “won’t be profitable for quite a while.”
Facebook was widely heralded as the tech industry’s leader in virtual reality when it acquired Oculus for $2 billion in 2014, but early sales of VR headsets have since fallen short of expectations. Competitors like HTC and Sony have also made early market share inroads and put pressure on Oculus.
Zuckerberg’s comments from Wednesday echo similar statements he gave last month during a testimony for a lawsuit between game maker ZeniMax and Oculus. During his testimony, he also revealed that Facebook plans to spend at least $3 billion more on developing VR over the next decade.
ZeniMax was awarded $500 million in damages from Facebook in a verdict on Wednesday, and Facebook plans to appeal the decision.
Facebook has yet to reveal how many units of its more expensive Oculus Rift headset have been sold. Samsung recently confirmed that it has sold 5 million of its lightweight Gear VR headsets to date, all of which run Oculus software. A Wednesday report from SuperData Research said that total VR revenue from 2016 was $1.8 billion, with 6.3 million devices sold.
Still, Facebook is not pulling back on VR. Last week Facebook underscored its commitment to the technology by hiring Hugo Barra, a high-profile former Google executive, to oversee Facebook’s virtual reality business.
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