Facebook has formed new PC and mobile VR groups within the Oculus Virtual Reality business. Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe is shifting roles to run the PC VR group, while Jon Thomason runs the mobile VR group, Iribe confirmed today.
While most Oculus pundits focus on consumer applications, there are signs that Oculus and rival VR products will eventually address corporate needs as well.
Facebook acquired Oculus and the associated virtual reality technology for $2 billion in 2014. The Oculus VR product portfolio has grown to include Experiences; Gear VR; Rift; and Touch (controllers for Rift). Oculus-ready PCs are also moving into the market.
Still, Facebook apparently wants Oculus to innovate even more rapidly. Hence, the decision to launch PC and mobile group for the VR business...
Here Come Facebook PCs?
As Iribe stated in a blog today:
"...Facebook is committed to working on VR for the long term, which means building the next great computing platform that allows people to experience anything with anyone and connects the world in bold new ways.
Changing the world on that scale has required us to also scale Oculus at warp speed. With our growth and product strategy, we’ve decided to establish new PC and mobile VR groups to be more focused, strengthen development and accelerate our roadmap.
Looking ahead and thinking about where I’m most passionate, I’ve decided to lead the PC VR group—pushing the state of VR forward with Rift, research and computer vision. As we’ve grown, I really missed the deep, day-to-day involvement in building a brand new product on the leading edge of technology."
PC Makers Prepare for Virtual Reality, Too
No doubt, major PC makers are exploring user interfaces that push far beyond keyboards, mice, touch screens and graphical user interfaces (GUIs). During recent partner summits, Dell, HP Inc. and Lenovo have told partners to prepare customers for higher-end systems that have the horsepower for more demanding user experiences.
HP, for instance, is telling partners to keep an eye on opportunities like 3D printing and immersive computing — including developments like Sprout, according to Channel Chief Stephanie Dismore. Moreover, Dismore is set to attend the massive Consumer Electronics Show in January 2017. HP is expected to describe the continued blurring of the line between consumer and business devices at the conference.
How big is the VR opportunity? Top-line figures are all over the map. But even "small" slices of the market could become massive. As Business Insider put it in March 2016: Facebook will sell 600,000 Rift units this year and more than two million in 2017, generating over $1.6 billion in revenue from hardware and royalty fees from game sales, according to Cantor Fitzgerald.