Facebook unveiled its ambitious bet on the future of social networking and computing that is supposed to be ready in a decade, “the most social platform ever created,” according to its leader Mark Zuckerberg.
The first step towards the vision that Zuckerberg announced this week was the purchase of the Californian company Oculus VR, a pioneer in the development of prototype virtual reality viewers for video games, in an operation that took the industry by surprise as it was valued at $2 billion dollars.
VR is the manufacturer Oculus Rift, a system of virtual reality immersion with skier style glasses that got a boost of $ 2.4 million through crowd-funding. The glasses have since evolved into the benchmark for this emerging business.
To date Oculus VR has received more than 75,000 orders from software developers interested in exploring the uses of the device, which does not have a release date.
Zuckerberg and Iribe presented the Oculus project starting under the tutelage of the social network. The first phase will be to realize the plans from Oculus VR, whose short-term goal is to provide a tool for immersion in virtual reality for gamers.
“That will not change and we hope to accelerate the process,” Zuckerberg said. Iribe said that it will take advantage of the structure and resources of Facebook to focus on product development with applications, as both executives agreed, they far outweigh the entertainment field.
Initially, Oculus will operate independently within Facebook . “But that’s just the beginning,” said Zuckerberg, who made the decision to invest in virtual reality because it is projected that within a decade social networks will consist of “experiences” shared through the eyes of a virtual reality system.
Facebook’s chief imagines students attending classes from their homes, while it takes place in a virtual world that everyone is part of – to the point of deceiving the brain, to according Iribe – something he called a form of teleportation.
The technology would also have medical and communication sector uses, among others mentioned as part of the long-term goal of Facebook , although it is not expected that the new acquisition provides any revenue or loss to the social network.
Zuckerberg himself made ??it clear that Facebook is and will remain a software company. His main interest is to build the virtual ecosystem, not to engage in the sale of devices, and pointed to the possibility of allowing a return on investment with advertising in the virtual world . “Oculus have the opportunity to create the social platform that has never existed ,” Zuckerberg said.
It Is expected that the full purchase of Oculus VR will be done in the second quarter of 2014. Facebook’s owner said that his company will not continue with the same pace of acquisitions. A month ago Facebook announced it had purchased the mobile messaging application WhatsApp for $16,000 million.
The stock market reacted with calmness to the new operation and Facebook’s shares traded slightly downward in the negotiations after the close of Wall Street. The announcement also drew some early reviews from the gaming industry.
Shortly after the news, the creator of the game ‘ Minecraft ‘ announced on their website that it will cancel its order from Oculus Rift. He said the company’s technology had shocked him but that he had stopped believing in it after it passed to the hands of Facebook. “I do not want to work with the social medium, I want to work with games,” said Markus Persson who complained that Facebook has “a history of increasing concern around the number of users that navigate its pages.” Persson was hopeful, however, about the emergence of competitors in the virtual reality world.
Among the new players there’s Sony, which last week showed his Morpheus project for virtual reality. It will be attached to the new PlayStation 4 that is still in development and it is rumored that Microsoft is working on something similar for Xbox One.