Oculus VR could have changed business reality, but they let Facebook stop them


#1

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#2

Nothing is more cyberpunk than the corporations throwing their weight around. At least this has a somewhat Gibson-esque ending.

So there’s that.


#3

In the future, everything is fake, and built of spam.


#4

In terms of disappointment, this is right up there with halloween caramel onions.

If I was being incredibly optimistic, I’d say that this is far enough from Facebook’s wheelhouse that they’ll keep it at arm’s length and just feast on the profits from letting Oculus do what they were going to anyway. After all, no one suggested the aim was anything other than to make money.

But as the post points out, everything good and exciting about the Rift was in its future, and if people don’t believe in that future-- which just got much harder-- then it will continue to not be anything.

Supersadface


#5

I’d rather they focused more on creating VR versus some sort of Google Glass augmented reality competition.


#6

Hey guys, I bet we can make some goggles too - for less than a billion, even. Who’s in?


#7

Notch has tweeted that he is cancelling all plans to develop an Rift compatible version of Minecraft.


#8

I’m starting to hate Facebook with a passion


#9

Thank you for you view point. I heard something on the radio the other day that for today’s youth “selling out” isn’t a thing. As in, “If I can make this great thing and get Taco Bell to sponsor me, sweet!”

I’ve worked with a lot of companies who are funded by VCs and have seen how they are treated when it doesn’t look like they are going to make “the next big thing” they are shut down or ‘rolled up’ and all the energy that went into it, from the internal people and the external users or promoters dies.

Some of the companies made money, but not enough. But because the metric for the backers was “make a ton of money” not 'create something mind blowing and different" they got shut down. The VCs needed a huge win. Hell, in the old days you didn’t even have to make money! You just had to have “eyeballs” Netscape wasn’t making money. Twitter either.

I’m glad you are lamenting the promise and you are using the term ‘selling out’ because what it means in this case is not just what might happen but who might do it. We know what is in a companies “personality” and how they will use what they have. Maybe this will free up people for the 'next big thing" like the canceling of the Newton did at Apple.

A while ago a friend said, “I’m waiting for Facebook to be “over.” another friend said, “It will never be over!” I said, 'I know! That is exactly what I told my MySpace friends!”


#10

Maybe Hiro Protagonist will have something to say about this.


#11

This is precisely the point I was hoping to get across. Now that Oculus is owned by Facebook, Facebook’s shareholders are their shareholders. They are directly tied together. What’s good for one may not be what’s best for the other.

Crowdfunding gave promise that the early stages of a business could be bought into and backed by the people who want it. That even without a share, the people who really wanted what was best for the product would support the business. On the other end of this lifecycle is the company’s IPO: now it’s large enough to pay dividends or grow value for its shareholders and it can make that offer to them.

Your comment is great because it nails the problem here: Oculus was damned close to making it to the IPO stage, but because there’s that middle stretch where they need more funding in larger quantities it could still go sideways. Dang. So close.


#12

I hear the Facebook copyright people already have a brand name in mind and a new concept with more rounded curves, there’s already an info site up showing the newly minted Facebook employees trying it out at their first employee orientation:

http://facehugger.info/


#13

Yes, they were bought out. No, that’s not terrible. It may not even be a crass money grab. It may have been their only path to survival.

The truth is that without a big money buyer like Facebook, many of us felt Occulus had almost no chance of relevance or survival, even in the medium term.

Like many small technical innovators, their product had become a prime target for the established manufacturers. Occulus was about to be under-priced and overwhelmed by entrenched, experienced, low-cost, quality hardware builders like Sony, Samsung, and Microsoft.

Oculus didn’t build most of their own hardware, they built the shell, but purchased all the sensors and screens from companies who will soon be their competitors. Oculus would never have received the best component prices and wouldn’t have any presence in the channel. Oculus didn’t have any world beating patents, as most of the patents in this field are over twenty years old and no longer enforceable.

Sony has already shown a VR device that is superior in almost every way to Oculus’s latest development. Sony has the funds, manufacturing expertise, retail channel, and gaming platform to immediately support their device. Sony could sell their VR headset for less than Oculus’ manufacturing cost and still manage a profit.

Facebook brings enough money to give Oculus a chance. They will now have leverage, they will now have a massive marketing force.

Hate Facebook all you like, but Oculus wasn’t the scrappy small-town team about to beat the reigning world champions. They were a grade school team playing against all six world champions at the same time, probably about to get their asses kicked all the way back home.

Without Facebook or a company like them, Oculus were destined to be a soon forgotten speed bump.


#14

Tonight, in my mumble community,
in my teamspeak community,
in my shoot-thingee communities
…the communities that bow to our patron saint john carmack…

there was no talking about valuation,
or metrics,
or eyeballs,
or selling out,
or corporate survival.

There were only howls of pain.


#15

If you want a vision of the future, imagine a book strapped on a human face - forever


#16

Imagine the neck muscles you will eventually work out though


#17

Alas, it’s very well balanced, so it will probably just give you compressed vertebrae.


#18

Ready Player One.

Coming next: The OASIS by Facebook.


#19

Facebook’s primary focus is data harvesting, not making games, not making innovative technologies, data harvesting. Perhaps if a video game company bought them out, or an Augmented Reality company, or really any company that was remotely connected to what it actually does, I wouldn’t be so cynical but in this case I really don’t think that it is going to go well.


#20

Note, for so many reasons, that was one of the saddest comments I could make. Ready Player One, wonderful and prophetic, deserves better.

However…

This is BoingBoing, and all that happened is that the Oculus Rift got bought by Facebook. It does not mean the technology of ALL immersive VR ends, or that indeed, the dreams of all good things ends.

Just consider the people who come here, and how we think—and more importantly, what we DO. All that “Facebook buys Oculus” means is that we who seek better things will make better things, and those of us who can’t engineer better tech ourselves will find ways to hijack and subvert what is around, towards better purposes.

I have faith in Happy Mutants.