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.
“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.