Founder reiterates that social networking site is making a “long-term bet” on where the future of computing is going.
Mark Zuckerberg, the man whose company paid $2 billion to acquire Oculus Rift developer Oculus VR earlier this year, wants to stress that it’s still early days for virtual reality as the next big computing platform.
During an earnings call this week, Zuckerberg made it clear that Facebook acquired Oculus VR based on the prospect of success in the long-run, not the short-term.
“As I’ve said before, with Oculus, we’re making a long-term bet on the future of computing,” Zuckerberg said, as reported by Gamasutra. “Every 10 to 15 years a new major computing platform arrives… Virtual reality and augmented reality are an important part of this platform.”
“It needs to reach a very large scale–50 to 100 million units–before it will really be a very meaningful thing as a computing platform” — Mark Zuckerberg
“Our efforts here will take longer to achieve their full impact, but we will prepare for the future by continuing to invest aggressively,” Zuckerberg said, also referring to Facebook’s plans for Internet.org. “It’s still early for Oculus.”
Also during the call, Zuckerberg said he is “really excited” about the potential for Oculus Rift on PC and on mobile, though partnerships such as Samsung’s Gear VR. However, he stressed that he doesn’t think VR will become a meaningful computing platform for “a bunch of years.”
“It needs to reach a very large scale–50 to 100 million units–before it will really be a very meaningful thing as a computing platform, so I do think it’s going to take a bunch of years to get there,” he said. “Maybe, I don’t know–it’s hard to predict exactly–but I don’t think it’s going to get to 50 or 100 million units in the next few years, right? That’ll take a few cycles of the device to get there.”
By comparison, the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 have sold around 80 million units each, while the Wii has moved more than 100 million units to date.
Once VR grows to this scale, the platform will become an interesting business opportunity with many avenues for growth through the ecosystem, he said.
“So when I’m talking about it as a 10-year thing, I’m talking about building the first set of devices, and then building the audience and the ecosystem around that, until it eventually becomes a business,” he explained.
Finally, Facebook CFO David Wehner said during the call that a significant portion of Facebook’s research and development efforts will be for Oculus Rift, though he did not provide any specifics.
Oculus Rift creator Palmer Luckey recently said that he envisions the first consumer version of Oculus Rift, which still does not have a release date or price, as something similar to the Ford Model T.