Ten years ago, few people even heard of Facebook, and now there are well over 1 million active users on the platform each month. The rate of growth of the company has been staggering, and more than likely a precursor to what’s to come. While Facebook is now trying to connect the next 5-6 billion people on the planet via innovative methods such as internet enabling drones, the company also realizes that the future of their social platform may not reside solely on computer and smartphone screens.
Back in 2014 the company acquired Oculus for a staggering $2 billion. At the time, many analysts were a bit baffled as to why Facebook, a social media company, would even consider buying out the manufacturer of a virtual reality headset known as the Oculus Rift. Fast forward a couple of years and now Zuckerberg’s vision seems to be becoming much more clear. Just like mobile phones and tablets disrupted the PC industry, new technologies will eventually come along to disrupt the disruptors. As we move forward it appears as if that technology may in fact be augmented and virtual reality. Luckily for Facebook they were able to get a giant head start within the space with the Oculus purchase.
Now look back 10 years to early 2006. Think about how far technology has progressed since then, and how far we have come in such a short amount of time. Now look ahead ten years. More than likely it’s nearly impossible to imagine just how different our world will be. Communication, gaming, entertainment and marketing will all have changed drastically. Zuckerberg and company envision these changes relying heavily on VR and AR technologies. By 2025 it’s estimated that between one and two billion VR headsets will have been shipped. Many of these headsets will be the more affordable, sub-$30 devices, while probably approximately 25% will be higher-end devices; perhaps the Oculus Rift 5 or HTC Vive 5. The smartphones of today may be the VR headsets of tomorrow, as virtual interactions become the norm. Instead of a phone call or even a text message one may find themselves immersed in another world, meeting a friend in a far-away location, or perhaps conducting group virtual gatherings with dozens of people, located in cities across the globe.
Facebook could be at the center of all this, offering the hardware, via the Oculus Rift, the platform, Facebook.com, and backbone to make it all happen fluidly. Many of you may have seen the Microsoft HoloLens Holoportation video, in which Shahram Izadi, a Microsoft Research Partner, is able to meet his young daughter, who’s miles away, in the room he’s standing it, all thanks to the HoloLens augmented reality headset. Now envision this kind of technology after ten years of further R&D. Instead of using Facebook Messenger as a means for rapid communication with friends, loved ones, and business acquaintances, we all may be using the Facebook Holoportation Service to beam ourselves into the offices, living rooms and classrooms of those we are connected to.
It’s where communication meets virtual and augmented reality that Facebook will have a clear advantage at. And if they play their cards right over the next decade, it’s foolish to think that the company won’t be raking in tens of billions of dollars per quarter as they transform themselves into a VR/AR platform used by billions of people every day. While currently their revenue is derived almost entirely from advertising, Facebook could slowly become a multi-faceted corporation, deriving revenue from advertising, services, and hardware, while leading the way in the future of communications.
Will Facebook’s roadmap of the future pan out? Let’s hear your thoughts in the Facebook’s VR Future forum on VRTalk.com