Facebook’s Virtual Reality Play: Oculus

Facebook buys Oculus VR for two billion dollars and makes a big bet on virtual reality.

In this Jan. 7, 2014 file photo, show attendees play a video game wearing Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets at the Intel booth at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Facebook purchased the startup company for an estimated $2 billion this March. (AP)

In this Jan. 7, 2014 file photo, show attendees play a video game wearing Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets at the Intel booth at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Facebook purchased the startup company for an estimated $2 billion this March. (AP)

Strap on the Oculus Rift and you’re in another world.  A big headset – goggles – covering your eyes.  A huge spread of virtual reality filling your field of vision.  Another world.  Less than two years ago, Oculus was a Kickstarter campaign and a dream.  This week, Facebook announced it will buy Oculus for $2 billion.  Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg says virtual reality is key to social media’s future.  Virtual presence.  Hanging out with people who aren’t actually with you.  You might think Facebook is a virtual reality already.  This hour On Point:   Facebook’s virtual reality play with Oculus.

— Tom Ashbrook


Eric Limer, writer and editor for the technology blog, Gizmodo. (@ericlimer)

Jeremy Bailenson, founding director of Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab. Author of “Infinite Reality: Avatars, Eternal Life, New Worlds and the Dawn of the Virtual Revolution.” (@StanfordVR)

James McQuivey, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research. (@jmcquivey)

From Tom’s Reading List

The Wall Street Journal: Facebook to Buy Virtual Reality Firm Oculus for $2 Billion — “Like Facebook’s $19 billion purchase last month of text-messaging service WhatsApp, the deal is part of the social-networking company’s vast ambition to connect people across all kinds of devices and modes of communication. The deal also highlights the intense competition among big technology companies for promising startups, even when those startups, like Oculus and WhatsApp, have little revenue.”

TechCrunch: A Brief History of Oculus — “To write the words ‘A Brief History Of Oculus’ is a bit funny — because really, the company’s very existence has been brief. From the launch of their Kickstarter campaign to their massive acquisition, just 601 days had passed. The company has definitely generated its fair share of buzz in its short lifespan — and yet, many, many people are hearing about the team for the very first time this week.”

Gizmodo: Facebook Is Buying Oculus VR, The Incredible Future of Virtual Reality –“Facebook’s plans for the totally rad VR headset aren’t immediately apparent, and the social media giant’s announcement of the acquisition does little to clear it up, citing the possibility of using the totally righteous future headset for things like communication and education along with more obvious things like entertainment. ”

King Digital Entertainment And One-Hit Wonders

James Surowiecki, staff writer for the New Yorker, where he writes the Financial Page.

The New Yorker: One Hit Wonders — “Development costs in the game-app world are very low. Angry Birds was made for just a hundred and forty thousand dollars, and Candy Crush was created by a team of fewer than ten people. Established companies have some advantage when it comes to marketing power, but hits can come from anywhere. Flappy Bird, a game that was recently downloaded fifty million times in a couple of weeks, was created in a matter of days by a single designer. “

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