Social network of a next generation may be part of a virtual reality. Mark Zuckerberg was not just buying a headset for a video game, he was buying the platform of the future.
Undoubtedly, the most shocking news on the IT-market was, and still is, Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus VR. Over the past two years Oculus was almost the most intriguing technology startup on the planet, as it promised to realize the dream of mankind – the digital universe. So what exactly were the reasons of this acquisition?
First of all, Mark Zuckerberg believes that virtual reality is a platform of the future. Initially Oculus Rift helmets will be used in video games, but later they can revolutionize many industries – from film and social media to education and business. “To better understand the deal, remember, Google bought Android in 2005. Many then were surprised. We, in Facebook, think that virtual reality will repeat the success of smartphones and become a very important platform”, said Chris Dixon, one of Oculus early investors.
Social network of the next generation can be a part of a huge virtual world. That is why a combination of Facebook and Oculus is theoretically so intriguing: cyberpunk pioneers like Neal Stephenson have long ago described the virtual metaverse. In our world, Second Life can be considered to be a forerunner of the future, where virtual avatars created by people are involved in the most diverse social activity. Many experts – from scientists to the top managers of large corporations – believe that in the future we will be spending more and more of our work and leisure time in the three-dimensional carcasses. And at some moment two trends – the boom of social networks and virtual avatars – must join together in one. However, this is still very distant.
Meanwhile, a partnership with Facebook can help Oculus continue to develop. And the first problem here is to take a step back: the idea of metaverse is very cool, but currently people start feeling sick after about one hour in the Oculus helmet. Another problem is the lack of organic control methods. Further improvement will require a huge investment. “Until now, we were dependent on the progress of the market of smartphones and tablets […], but in the future it would be right to develop technologies specifically for virtual reality”, said Oculus VR CEO Palmer Lucky.
Competition on this market promises to be fierce. Sony presented its Morpheus helmet to the public eye. There are rumors of VR-glasses from Microsoft and Valve. It is possible that a lack of resources for the development and promotion of its platform to the masses would not allow Oculus Rift really become the major player in this enormously perspective market. Facebook tends at first not to interfere with the activities of purchased companies, so the team has a chance to make Oculus acoording to the original vision. At least that’s why, according to the founders, they preferred to deal with Facebook instead of Google or Mircrosoft.
A faithdul community of developers reacted to the news quite nervously. Markus Persson, Minecrat founder, immediately wrote in Twitter that he refuses his plans to release a version of his product for Oculus: «Facebook terrifies me”. When Palmer Lucky met with Reddit users to explain the deal, he was instantly accused of treason. Oculus story began with a successful campaign on Kickstarter, so many private investors were treating the project very personally. Transaction with Facebook destroys that idyll. We all want to see how a small independent startup turns up the whole world. Unfortunately, this is not always possible.