The jaw-dropper of the day in the tech industry, you’ve probably heard, was Facebook’s announcement that it will spend $2 billion to acquire Oculus, the maker of the virtual-reality headset Oculus Rift.
Yes, no joke, and it was interesting to listen to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg talk about why the social network decided to bring Oculus into the fold. The deal might seem nuts, but it’s a reminder that Facebook, with 1.2 billion users, believes it’s only getting started.
Facebook thinks virtual reality will be a big part of our lives someday, and it wants to be at the center of that future world.
But what about the competition? Zuckerberg made it clear that he’s not exactly worried about the likes of the PlayStation or Xbox. Here’s what he said on the conference call.
What we’ve seen is the Oculous product that they have now is way ahead of anything else that’s out there. Sony, I think, has demo’d something very early. Microsoft hasn’t even gotten to the point where they have anything to demo yet. Not only that but the team is way ahead in terms of just having so many talented people at Oculus, that we feel good about that.
In order to build a really big computing platform, there are a bunch of important use cases that you need to support. … We’ve measured this more with mobile, but what we see is that about 40 percent of the time that people spend overall is in gaming. And about 40 percent is also spent in social communications. About half of that is in Facebook, which is nice.
What we basically believe is that unlike the Microsoft or Sony pure console strategies, if you want to make this a real computing platform, you need to fuse both of those things together.
Zuckerburg said the idea is to “transcend the traditional console opportunity to really make it more of a ubiquitous computing platform.” He added, “I think these two companies are really the only ones that are set up to have that happen.”
The Facebook CEO was correct in noting that Microsoft has been rumored to be making its own virtual-reality technology, but hasn’t yet shown anything publicly. Just imagine the conversations inside Xbox HQ today.