Facebook has already become so pervasive that 1.23 billion people use it daily, either from a desktop computer or from a mobile device that travels with them.
This everywhere-all-the-time approach is the very reason that Facebook has become such a major player in the mobile advertising world. But chief executive Mark Zuckerberg isn’t content to rest on his laurels. Facebook’s now exploring virtual reality.
The Challenges of Virtual Reality
For all the pictures of grandkids, new friends, social groups and original content Facebook has to offer, the one thing it can’t be is wholly (or at least perceptively) real.
The text, still photos and videos are interesting and engaging, but Zuckerberg has bigger dreams. He’s looking to build virtual and augmented reality platforms that can help users interact with the real and virtual worlds in entirely different ways.
The so far lackluster performance of VR devices may make this a difficult uphill climb, but Zuckerberg is building a team to help develop an entirely new platform. Heading that team will be Hugo Barra, most recently of Chinese smartphone company Xiaomi. Before Xiaomi, Barra helped build Google’s Android mobile phone business, which has helped revolutionize the way people consume media.
The Future is VR?
“Hugo shares my belief that virtual and augmented reality will be the next major computing platform,” Zuckerberg wrote in a recent post. “Hugo is going to help build that future.”
Facebook had already acquired virtual reality company Oculus far ahead of this announcement. About three years ago, it paid nearly $2 billion for the struggling VR company. Zuckerberg believes that at least another $3 billion will need to be invested in development efforts and content to feed the now-$600 headset. But he and Barra are hopeful that they will be the ones to bring VR to the masses.
“The highest calling of an engineer is to make technology breakthroughs quickly and readily available to the widest possible spectrum of humanity,” Barra posted recently. “That will be my mission at Facebook.”
There’s no official word about when or if Facebook users will be reaping the benefits of explosive developments in virtual reality, but if Zuckerberg’s history is any indication, he’ll find a way to integrate the technology into the social network. In the not so distant future, users may be able to actually reach out and touch their far-off family and friends.