Email inboxes, Twitter feeds and News sites have been red-hot today due to the announcement that Facebook is to acquire Oculus VR in a $2bn deal.
Whilst some of the reactions have been negative, largely based on people not being fans of Facebook, we think this is great news for the virtual reality market and here’s some reasons why…..
Firstly, it’s a clear indication that the virtual reality market is going to be huge. Last week at GDC Sony presented their foray into the market with Project Morpheus. And, not to be outdone, Microsoft made noises about their interest in the market. Having Facebook in the mix means greater awareness of the technology.
A similar thing happened back in 2007 when Club Penguin was acquired by Disney in a $700m deal. Up to that point, it was only really kids (i.e. the players of a small number of virtual worlds) who had heard about virtual worlds. Almost overnight they became mainstream assisted by the media which then led to an influx of VC activity in the space and the creation of countless start-ups and companies launching their own worlds.
Secondly, consumer adoption of headsets will be assisted with potentially lower price points. Oculus will be able to price the consumer version (CV1) more attractively, meaning more people will be able to afford them. Mark Zuckerberg has already gone on record stating the FB won’t try to make a profit off selling Oculus hardware.
Thirdly and ultimately most important in terms of where this market is heading, having Facebook involved in the space means a greater focus on the ‘social’ aspects of virtual reality. By this we mean the creation of virtual worlds and spaces allowing synchronous user to user interaction.
Of course, using virtual reality to play games is a key application and we expect many successes in this segment of the market. But, the virtual reality market really comes alive when people can have experiences together, in the same space at the same time. This is the main reason we believe Facebook has acquired Oculus and is referenced in the press release from yesterday…
“Mobile is the platform of today, and now we’re also getting ready for the platforms of tomorrow,” Zuckerberg said in a statement. “Oculus has the chance to create the most social platform ever, and change the way we work, play and communicate.”
We identified this segment back in January when we released our VR Radar – 12 key sectors for virtual reality adoption. The social worlds segment is shown in the graphic right.
And another sector, LifeLogging could also be part of future plans. After all, recording and sharing what we’re doing in our lives is a key feature of Facebook.
Concluding the point of this article, the virtual reality market was going to be big without the Facebook acquisition. Now it looks like it’s going to be bigger and probably take place faster.
Looking to develop an Oculus Rift application? Contact us here.