View profile

Big Revolution - Facebook’s VR threat horizon

Happy Valentine’s Day, folks. I love you all (in an appropriate way for a newsletter writer to love h
February 14 · Issue #347 · View online
Big Revolution
Happy Valentine’s Day, folks. I love you all (in an appropriate way for a newsletter writer to love his subscribers, you understand).
– Martin from Big Revolution

Big things you need to know today
  • Apple’s March event will launch subscription video and news offerings, Bloomberg reports. According to CNBC, Netflix won’t be part of the video service. Recode reports that Apple has got some publishers signed up to a 50/50 revenue split for the ‘Spotify for news’ service (they think Apple can sign up so many subscribers the split won’t matter), although big US newspapers aren’t biting.
  • The controversial EU copyright directive is just a parliamentary vote away from becoming law. After a brief roadbump over Christmas, the directive, which will mean EU countries need to introduce a ‘link tax’ and copyright filtering on uploads to online services, looks set to pass.
  • Instagram has addressed a bug that saw many accounts see reduced follower counts. As yesterday’s ‘big tweet’ in this newsletter indicated, some thought this was a cull of fake accounts. But no, just a bug.
  • There’s a problem facing self-driving cars in the Netherlands: all the bikes.
The big thought
Credit: Samuel Zeller on Unsplash
Facebook’s VR threat horizon
You can say a lot of negative things about Mark Zuckerberg’s stewardship of Facebook in recent years, but he certainly knows a threat when he sees one.
A new book by ‘Console Wars’ author Blake Harris shows that Facebook took VR and AR so seriously that it wanted to buy Unity. Unity is a platform used to build many of the world’s top video games, so this would have been a massive move for Facebook.
Harris, whose new book The History of the Future focuses on the story of Oculus and its acquisition by Facebook, has shared an email with TechCrunch that shows Zuckerberg’s approach to AR and VR:
“We are vulnerable on mobile to Google and Apple because they make major mobile platforms.
“From a timing perspective, we are better off the sooner the next platform becomes ubiquitous and the shorter the time we exist in a primarily mobile world dominated by Google and Apple. The shorter this time, the less our community is vulnerable to the actions of others.
“Therefore, our goal is not only to win in VR / AR, but also to accelerate its arrival. This is part of my rationale for acquiring companies and increasing investment in them sooner rather than waiting until later to derisk them further.”
In practice, Facebook hasn’t done a lot to accelerate AR and VR. Oculus products are yet to successfully break out beyond a niche gamer audience, and people are hardly lining up to try Facebook’s VR-based offerings.
And yet that doesn’t mean Zuckerberg was wrong. Just look at how Fortnite has evolved from a multiplayer game into a popular hangout for teenagers. Facebook would love those kids to be using its own apps instead. And while Fortnite isn’t a VR-based experience, it is a 3D virtual world, which shows such places can be mainstream venues for social interaction.
Even if it turns out that Facebook has missed the boat here, you’ll not be able to claim Zuckerberg didn’t know he needed to be on board.
One big read
The painstaking craft of Reddit's r/relationships moderators The painstaking craft of Reddit's r/relationships moderators
This felt like the perfect link to share for Valentine’s Day.
One big tweet
Alastair Coote
"Spotify for news" sounds good until you realise the actual comparison is dozens of artists releasing cover versions of the same song every morning and desperately trying to get the algorithm to put their version ahead of everyone elses
5:31 PM - 13 Feb 2019
That’s all for today...
Although it very much feels like Friday to me, it certainly isn’t. That means I’ll be back tomorrow with another Big Revolution newsletter. See you in your inbox then.
Did you enjoy this issue?
Become a member for $5 per month
Don’t miss out on the other issues by Martin SFP Bryant
You can manage your subscription here
If you were forwarded this newsletter and you like it, you can subscribe here
Powered by Revue