Wednesday, March 26, 2014

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Facebook Employees Who Created Second Life Celebrate Facebook Becoming Virtual Worlds Company

For my money, this is the best Facebook update about Facebook acquiring Oculus Rift from a Facebook staffer (not counting Mark Zuckerberg) is this one from Facebook engineer Jim Purbrick, wryly welcoming Facebook arrival as a virtual worlds company:

Facebook VR Oculus Rift

Jim Purbrick, of course, was known as Babbage Linden when he worked for Linden Lab, which he left in 2010, joining Facebook last year, where many fomer Lindens also work, including engineer Ian Wilkes, and chief among them, former Linden Lab Chief Technology Officer Cory Ondrejka, who now heads up Facebook's mobile division.

Speaking of Facebook, Oculus Rift founder Palmer Lucky just dispelled some popular misconceptions about the acquisition, along with offering some tantalizing hints:

No, you will not need a Facebook account to use or develop for Oculus Rift, no, Facebook tech will not be tied into the VR system. And the $2 billion is going into making custom hardware, building out the staff, and most interestingly, "huge investments in content". Wonder what those will be?

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Adeon Writer

A VR-based virtual world is my ultimate dream, I'm just upset that my Facebook boycott will take priority if entering this dream come true requires a Facebook login.

Ciaran_Laval

Palmer Luckey who said of concerns about data gathering by Facebook :

"Nothing changes. Keep in mind that Mark Zuckerberg has publicly spoken against NSA surveillance."

Really? There was much mirth when Zuck made those complaints.

Palmer Luckey is in absolutely no position to make those guarantees, take anything he says with a huge pinch of salt.

Whether Facebook can pull this off is another story, I believe they're right to branch out into new areas, as I believe Linden Lab were, but Facebook are one seriously tainted company.

Slhamlet

Facebook owns Instagram, but it doesn't require a Facebook login, so I really doubt it.

MetacamOh

Looks like Zuck and Cory went around testing out all the VR technology out there before they bought the rift. Pretty excited to think Cory may have a lot to do with this direction.

Ciaran_Laval

@Slhamlet Instagram was already a product, it would be foolhardy to change logins too soon. However I have read that they are testing Facebook places with a view to replacing FourSquare intergration.

Oculus Rift has a long way to go yet, Palmer Luckey won't be the person having the final say on this.

Ezra

I dislike his comment about Apple and Microsoft.

"Why would we want to sell to someone like MS or Apple? So they can tear the company apart and use the pieces to build out their own vision of virtual reality, one that fits whatever current strategy they have? Not a chance."

Oh I'm sure Microsoft and Apple would've promised total autonomy no different than Facebook has, most acquisitions start that way, but at least when inevitably that changes there's the comfort of knowing Microsoft and Apple are strong demonstrators of selling hardware, software and related services whereas Facebook exclusively has a history in selling ads and user information (which some would deem their privacy).

It is what it is, he sold out. He doesn't have to own up to it now, but he isn't the shotcaller anymore. He may've been given an illusion of that, but say OculusVR puts a modified version of Android directly into the Rift (which is going to happen as that's the only mobile strategy that makes sense), exactly what account and app store system should we expect? Google Play? Kindle Store? Ouya's OS? No, fully expect something Facebook-centric, unless for some reason Facebook would opt for building a new customer base one sign-up at a time rather than instantly migrating a billion Facebook users. To not do that would be akin to Amazon having not linked existing website accounts to the Kindle in the beginning, or Microsoft not joining Hotmail with MSN Messenger with Skype with Windows Phone, Apple not leveraging existing iTunes accounts with iOS and their devices, etc. it wouldn't make much sense.

So Palmer's talkin' a good talk now, but unless he's gotten it in bulletproof writing that despite selling the company, he still actually owns it and has final say on every decision, that he can't be terminated, demoted, or otherwise released of his current station...then he can't back up a single thing that he's saying. Short of Zuckerberg being the one on Reddit saying all of this, it's all just wishful thinking and promises that can't be backed up any longer.

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