Tuesday, March 25, 2014

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Oculus Rift Bought by Facebook for $2 Billion: Yes, Virtual Reality is Going Mass Market

Oculus Rift Second Life Facebook

Facebook is buying Oculus Rift for $2 billion dollars, which is news I had to squint at several times before realizing it wasn't a hoax. But yes, Facebook is doing so as part of its mobile strategy (because Oculus will integrate with Android phones):

“Mobile is the platform of today, and now we’re also getting ready for the platforms of tomorrow,” said Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. “Oculus has the chance to create the most social platform ever, and change the way we work, play and communicate.”

So yes, as it's now owned by a company with one billion users, Oculus Rift is going mass market -- not this year or next, but almost definitely in the years to come. And yes, we now know for sure Linden Lab is right to integrate Oculus Rift with the Second Life viewer, and should spend even more money and resources on that effort.

Oh, and here's another interesting angle: Second Life co-founder Cory Ondrejka is now the head of Facebook's mobile division. So draw your own conclusions. Tech CEO Matt Galligan already did:

More thoughts from the Twitter feed of theMIX agency where I'm editorial VP:

I said last year that 2014 is the year VR goes big. But I never imagined how huge that would be.

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Desmond Shang

This makes about as much sense as Yahoo buying cloud party. Insofar as: it doesn't make sense.

What has facebook done with virtual reality, really?

Sure, it *could* do a lot of things. But I have a bad feeling about this. It's sort of like Whirlpool washing machines buying, say, the rights to build Land Rover vehicles.

MetacamOh

All I have to say is wow. Bold and brilliant move by Zuck.

Adeon Writer

If only the Kickstarter rewards would have included stock. Oh well.

Will probably burn the t-shirt.

Ezra

There are consequences. Notch just cancelled any Minecraft update for Oculus Rift as a response. A lot of people don't trust Facebook.

This seems like an unnecessary disaster. After one round of funding not even that long ago, they sell the company? Ugh.

Pussycat Catnap

"There are consequences. Notch just cancelled any Minecraft update for Oculus Rift as a response. A lot of people don't trust Facebook."
*******************************

Yeah. I'd feel better if the NSA had bought it...

Facebook is pretty low on the trust totem pole.

That said... I'm kind of on the 'lolwut' side of this. I don't get the why for Facebook. Unless they're going to flip the camera around on this thing and record the user - what's the point.

For me this isn't a "where's the beef?" question, but a "I went into a Mac. Donald's, and you gave me an office chair when I ordered fries. lolwut?"

Osaka Harker

I been noticing Linden Labs asking for more employees are they growing to sell..and will Facebook or Yahoo get it first? What a sad day for VR today might be... let us hope most of us are wrong...

Ciaran_Laval

I'm not quite seeing the angle here, what are people going to do with Occulus Rift and 2D Facebook?

I mean a 3D Facebook makes no sense whatsoever. This is an odd move unless Facebook are going to branch out big time.

DBDigital Epsilon

Hamlet, mark my words this will be the death of RIFT. I think Facebook saw it as competition of some sort and just bought Rift to bury it. I hope you liked Rift, because it is the last you will ever see of it until another company comes long...if it ever does.

It also tells me that the company were not dedicated to the product, but rather were just making the company to sell. In essence they took us all for a ride.

TracyRedAngel

Can you imagine what would happen if Facebook or Yahoo bought out Linden Labs? *Shudders*.

DBDigital Epsilon

No imagination necessary, it would go the way of Cloud Party.

Steven Cann

VR is going to be big business so FB is simply maneuvering into position for the 10 years. They need to own some hardware too. That is a good tech business model.

Not sure on Yahoo buying CP ... but they would have bought it for a song.

As for SL ... it needs a vision and a big cash injection. It is lagging behind. OR will breathe new life into it, but SL needs to be prepared. High Fidelity might be made an offer.

Ajax Manatiso

Oculus rift plus mobile -- and now you are just annoyed at the person in line in front of you at the grocery store yammering on their phone -- just wait.

Ezra

When the Oculus Rift devs mention mobile, they don't mean tethering a Rift to a phone or tablet, they mean an Android system on a chip inside the Rift itself so that it can operate standalone.

I imagine Facebook my expedite plans to do that. They could have their own app store and all. They'll alienate people though who were just looking forward to tethering to their PCs and playing games that can be found on Steam.

We'll see how Facebook manages to please everyone, or not, but so far, it seems Oculus VR has succeeded at nothing but incurring a huge PR blemish.

Pep

FB buying Oculus is like all those Detroit gas-guzzler makers buying up electric car innovators. Purchase and park.

Pep (Oh, and LL has now been moved to the back of the Rift development queue.)

PS Wait a couple of years and you should be able to buy the headset operation for a pittance, stripped of all its patents of course.

Ole Etzel

one word: iris scan! `-´

Iggy

Death of the Rift? I doubt it. But I don't fear FB.

I use FB for the usual: a shout-out to old friends and a glimpse of the family who live far away. I figure Google is doing as much as FB with my personal data; my "block caller" and spam boxes take care of the annoyances.

That said, I just cannot imagine how this marriage of FB and Rift makes any sense.

FB can't be hoping to lure back Millennials with the Occulus Scuba-Mask; they are already leaving FB because Grammie and Gramps are there with the baby photos and chain-prayer requests.

Maybe Zuckerberg is thinking of a new platform entirely with VR, since he, more than any of us, knows the trajectory of FB once the Millennial users begin to defect to other platforms.

MetacamOh

Not sure why people are upset about the idea of SL being sold. You can't run Second Life worse than they have, I'd see it as a new life for it if that happened. If the rest of you are just content with the Lab milking it til it's dead that's fine.

MetacamOh

I'd also like to say, I do think Zuckerberg is a huge hypocrite no doubt, but those of you who are clamoring for the future metaverse, perhaps this guy is going to do it. Why would he buy Occulus to throw it in the trash? They have the funds and resources to kick it up 10x. They also have Cory Ondrejka don't forget.

RULosingHair

What did Facebook NOT acquire is the better question?

Linden Lab

Facebook TOS are superior to predatory Linden Lab TOS anyway...

Wolkenreiter

I know SL flag-wavers will hate me for that, but this could be the best news for the idea of a Metaverse since 10years...
Facebook has the userbase and acceptance to create a truly universal virtual world (it already is, actually...)
SL is not the Metaverse, it's just a quirky, complicated, expensive niche-game for 400,000 nerds, escapists, sex-addicts and gamblers (considering myself in at least 2 of those groups), and LL is just managing (and milking) the legacy of Philip Rosdales original idea and obviously has no vision of a virtual world beyond SL...

TracyRedAngel

These are all just suppositions. I do think it would worse for SL residents, particularly creators. Currently the only percentage LL takes out of any money creators in SL make is from upload fees. I could be wrong...I HOPE I would be wrong in thinking that if a company like Facebook were to buy out Linden Labs, they would want a bigger stake in creator's revenue. Frankly, I'm surprised LL doesn't take a percentage of profits. The only basis I have for this is because currently Ebay takes about 10% from each transaction sale. Ebay used to be this great place where you could unload all the crap in your attic you didn't want anymore and make a tidy little sum. Now the only people that can really profit on Ebay are wholesalers.

Yes, I know two completely different companies, and businesses, but the connection Im making is Ebay, not unlike SL, was a place where the individual had an opportunity to start their own business out of their home. I'm just not so sure a larger company like Facebook would continue to let creators profit from a platform they owned without taking a larger percentage other than a 10L upload fee.
I could be wrong, and maybe it's a bad supposition to make.

Trin Trevellion

Meanwhile in a parallel universe, the Oculus rift network buys a face book company.

Arcadia Codesmith

I think it's a shrewd move for a company that wants to remain a major player. The limitation of mobile is real estate -- there's just not enough screen for many applications. Break down that barrier (in 3D no less) and the world is your oyster.

Poi

Since I am a FB refusenik, this is bad news for me -- no doubt Rift users will have to go through FB to use it.

Laurence Simon

Interesting reality-check (virtual reality-check?) on this over at Wired:

http://www.wired.com/business/2014/03/facebook-oculus-second-life/

Same hype, different decade?
FB social + VR immersive = oil + water?

Zuck's virtual attendance of sports events and movies example seems like he's just tacking on VR to legacy experiences. The "virtual doctor visit" is just Hollywood sci-fi silly: it's handled much more efficiently and effectively through simpler telemedicine traditional camera and screen conferences, which those who it would serve can actually afford or share through community resources like a library or school. (The VR headset part might be helpful for telesurgery or consultations, though)

-ls/cm

cathartes aura

I think the sale of Oculus to F@#$book is beyond hilarious. In one fell swoop they lose all credibility with the hardcore gaming community. And Zuck pays $2 billion for a device that is now DOA. LMAO!

For the true believers(belieber's (LOL)) out there who actually think these companies(LL or Oculus) care about the future of VR or Virtual Worlds, etc etc., you are mistaken. They aren't in it to further VR research or Virtual World development/growth. They believe in one thing and one thing only - money.

It's time for SL residents and those who use virtual worlds to grow up... And stop believing/trusting in "saviors". Like Eb's, etc. They don't care about the average user/resident/creator.

Dirk

@TracyRedAngel

LL takes more than just the L$10 upload fee for a business - you still have to pay rent to someone inworld - even IF you 'own' land - you still pay rent. Also, consider SL Marketplace, LL takes a percentage of EVERY sale there.

TracyRedAngel

you don't have to own or rent land to have a business in SL, and even so, the comparative cost is still much lower than Ebay. The percentage LL takes from MP is again, very minimal.

cathartes aura

And to those who think the guys/gals at Oculus are groundbreaking pioneers (do some research on Jaron Lanier - VPL Research.

Now he was a true pioneer/groundbreaker. The current crop are just weak imitators... What's groundbreaking/cutting edge about f@#$book/Oculus?

And Jaron's new book is wonderful - "Who Owns the Future". Hint - It ain't us... LOL!

Mark Young

OculusVR are not weak imitators - they are strong innovators. The Rift offers quality and features at a price point that is groundbreaking. Hardly anyone could afford the kind of gear VPL made and it was quite finicky.

cathartes aura

VR Immersion is the future, whether it's through headsets or other means, for gaming, simulations, etc. But with many, many companies working on VR Headsets Oculus isn't the only game in town.

The first mass adopters of tech like this are going to be gamers. Hardcore gamers. And it's my opinion, that they aren't going to touch Oculus with a 100 meter pole after the latest developments. Oculus just made themselves radioactive to that group. And since they are all early adopters, are they going to go with Oculus? Or another VR Headset? Like Valve is developing? Or Sony? Or Microsoft? They all have massive buy-in from the hardcore gaming community. Oculus doesn't. And if part of the plan is to VR headset games like "Farmville", etc. My earlier observation stands. This is beyond hilarious...

Ms. CC Creeggan (CronoCloud Creeggan)

Look...I realize a bunch of you want your snowcrash/singularity/holodeck fantasies to come true and think Oculus is it, but it isn't.

Think about that line Hamlet wrote:

"But yes, Facebook is doing so as part of its mobile strategy (because Oculus will integrate with Android phones):"

That almost sounds like some PR flacks at Facebook reaching for "cool" by throwing a bunch of buzzwords against a wall and hoping some of it rubs off.

Oculus is the antithesis of mobile. It is very NOT-MOBILE. People are supposed to carry bags with Oculus in them, sit down at the hipster coffee place, hook them up to their phones and do what exactly? And how will they power the Oculus? And if the phone is running a 3D app, how fast will the phone's battery run down. And do people really want to walk around carrying a VR headset.

Theoretically yes, people want VR, but the VR they want is "Holodeck VR" they don't want to have to wear a feedback suit with motion capture balls on it and a heavy headset. They don't even want to wear a headset while the manipulate a game or whatever with a mouse and keyboard.

Oculus and other VR tech is a playtoy for rich nerds on par with the Segway that some VR obsessed nerds are wanting to be cool and mainstream. It's not going to happen, not until we have holodeck level VR. Quit trying to make "fetch", I mean VR, happen.

DBDigital Epsilon

@Tracy
It is true you don't have to own land to have a business in SL..however it is true 98% of the time. And in the other 2% then the person only uses Marketplace which, if you recall, DOES use a % fee.

LL knows that if they charged any more/added any new fees SL would evaporate almost over night. Creators would throw up their hands and walk (so many are on the edge as it is). And LL would have a nice, huge EMPTY world. Without creators everyone else will eventually leave as well, and they know it.

And I have to agree with CronoCloud, the tech is not quite there yet. RIFT is ground breaking because of its price point, but is it something that everyone will actually use? Sadly not. They may want it, they may try it for a bit, then shelve it and go back to their simple 2d games on their phones.

Smart phones became ubiquitous because of their portability, power, and ease of use. Rift doesn't have any of that (yet). It had potential, and that is what everyone was excited about. But with the sale to Facebook, that changes the whole game. It went from a dedicated crew that wanted to see the technology develop and thrive to a company that only wants to sell your pictures, likes, friends, knowledge to advertisers. Does this REALLY sound like a company that will drive the technology forward? They are more likely interested in the possibilities of making people buy or share more so they can monetize your likes.

I can see with RIFT the LIKE button becomes LOOK. And all you need to do is look at something and Facebook instantly knows, shares it with everyone. Three seconds later you ads for cars, clothes, and Viagra. All when you didn't intend to.

Of course I could be mistaken, but I highly doubt it. If a hardware company such as Apple bought it, then I wouldn't be happy, but at least there would be hope. With Facebook, well lets just say I think we will see pink cows flying before RIFT rises from this. I think we have a better chance to see true VR from Google at this point, although Google is still wanting to monetize your metadata, at least they seem to care more about their users privacy than Facebook (at the moment anyway).

Infinitesunset.wordpress.com

Yes, Virtual Reality is Going Mass Market -> Oh rly? This time for real? I don't think so. Don't get me wrong, but what I wanted was a gaming device now it is promoted as social device. I have been a sl user for so many years until I left it because LL did wrong decisions and did not listen to the community and guess which company does not listen to the community too? Right Facebook. So my beloved VR device the oculus , my dream is going to die. Because of GREED!

Paddy Wright

I think you are all forgetting one simple word Google Glass (ok two simple words). Facebook will strip the hell out of Rift and minimise it and produce a new version that competes with Google. They have no interest in Second Life or any virtual worlds. They just want some neat FB glasses for their 100 million users.

Simples

Constance C

Oculus Rift is to Facebook what Xbox is to Windows. You don't have to do F.B in O.R. In my opinion it's FB spreading it's bets, much like Microsoft was when it did Xbox.
Oculus will be used for games, and perhaps other things for stereoscopic telepresence. To my mind, virtual worlds will always be a niche within the computer tech world. Large or small is the question.

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