Facebook just spent $US2 billion buying Oculus VR, which makes a virtual reality headset.
Mark Zuckerberg believes that the Oculus headset could be the next widely adopted computing platform.
His thinking is that first there were PCs, then there were PCs connected to the Internet, now there’s mobile, and next there will be something else — “a new communication platform.”
He thinks that something else could be virtual reality — with the Oculus headset playing the role the Mac or iPhone in prior computing revolutions.
The analogy here is that Microsoft grew up in the shadow of IBM, and built Windows to get out of it, Google grew up in the shadow of Microsoft, and built Android to get out of it. Facebook has grown up in the shadow of Google search, iOS, and Android — and just bought Oculus to get out of it.
Zuckerberg believes virtual reality will be an especially social platform. He believes that people will strap on their Oculus headsets around the world and do things like play games or watch sporting events and movies together.
Zuckerberg and Facebook also believe that if Oculus fails to become the next great communications platform, it’s still on its way to becoming a successful gaming platform along the lines of Playstation and Xbox — two businesses the company would be happy to own for only $US2 billion.
Here’s Zuckerberg’s complete statement on the deal:
I’m excited to announce that we’ve agreed to acquire Oculus VR, the leader in virtual reality technology.
Our mission is to make the world more open and connected. For the past few years, this has mostly meant building mobile apps that help you share with the people you care about. We have a lot more to do on mobile, but at this point we feel we’re in a position where we can start focusing on what platforms will come next to enable even more useful, entertaining and personal experiences.
This is where Oculus comes in. They build virtual reality technology, like the Oculus Rift headset. When you put it on, you enter a completely immersive computer-generated environment, like a game or a movie scene or a place far away. The incredible thing about the technology is that you feel like you’re actually present in another place with other people. People who try it say it’s different from anything they have ever experienced in their lives.
Oculus’s mission is to enable you to experience the impossible. Their technology opens up the possibility of completely new kinds of experiences.
Immersive gaming will be the first, and Oculus already has big plans here that won’t be changing and we hope to accelerate. The Rift is highly anticipated by the gaming community, and there’s a lot of interest from developers in building for this platform. We’re going to focus on helping Oculus build out their product and develop partnerships to support more games. Oculus will continue operating independently within Facebook to achieve this.
But this is just the start. After games, we’re going to make Oculus a platform for many other experiences. Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face — just by putting on goggles in your home.
This is really a new communication platform. By feeling truly present, you can share unbounded spaces and experiences with the people in your life. Imagine sharing not just moments with your friends online, but entire experiences and adventures.
These are just some of the potential uses. By working with developers and partners across the industry, together we can build many more. One day, we believe this kind of immersive, augmented reality will become a part of daily life for billions of people.
Virtual reality was once the dream of science fiction. But the internet was also once a dream, and so were computers and smartphones. The future is coming and we have a chance to build it together. I can’t wait to start working with the whole team at Oculus to bring this future to the world, and to unlock new worlds for all of us.