Realities other than what is real – Augmented and Virtual — have presented massive potential before engineers, scientists, physicists and perhaps all technologists. However, that presented potential continues to remain untapped, despite billions of dollars being poured into R&D and product development.
One such promising efforts, which also involved significant amount of money, was underway at Facebook. Why “was” you ask ? Well, because Mark Zuckerberg, in a Facebook post moments ago, has announced merging of all of Facebook’s AR/VR ‘tools’ into one common entity called “Facebook Reality Labs”.
And yes, before you guess it, Oculus — along with all of whatever remains — will be a part of this merged entity as well.
Before we dive deeper into what this announcement could mean, let us see what Zuckerberg said. This announcement marks the consolidation of all of Facebook’s efforts in the field of Virtual Reality, including “augmented reality efforts, home devices, long term research initiatives, including areas like neural interfaces,” and of course, the Oculus line of products. Zuckerberg also announced a change in name of the company’s annual AR/VR event, christening it “Facebook Connect”
So what does this mean ? And why this organisational change?
Well, it could be either of two. One, Oculus’ contribution to Facebook’s bottom line was close to $250Mn in the last quarter. The entire of Facebook’s other revenues last quarter, which totalled $297Mn, primarily comprise of Oculus (80%) and other AR/VR bets such as Spark and the ‘it launched and came and went’ thing called Facebook Portal. So putting all of it under “Labs”, specially one of those was a $2.4Bn acquisition, could be Facebook’s way of telling us that all of this stuff is experimental, does not contribute to the bottom line and is hence not to be taken seriously.
This new “Reality Lab” would then become a place of Facebook moonshots and experimental hardware ventures. This arrangement would then be pretty similar to Google’s moonshot division as well.
The second reason for this reorganisation could be Facebook’s even more focus on AR/VR. Both AR and VR aren’t raking in huge billions for any tech company. And in that scenario, Facebook’s Oculus has actually performed pretty good. Its latest Quest headset for example, clocked in $100 million worth of sales alone. This reorganisation could hence be Facebook’s way of doubling down on its AR/VR efforts and clubbing Spark, Portal and other with Oculus to create a more complete ecosystem.
The reason could be either of the two or both.
Zuckerberg further added that VR has vast potential, allowing users to bypass computer screens and “deliver the feeling of presence — as if we’re right there next to each other.”
More updates will be provided on 16th September, at the Facebook Connect event.