Oculus Rift: Why Facebook?

I try to avoid bandwagon jumping as much as possible, but this I have to write about. Why Facebook? Why not, I don’t know, a hardware company? Or really… anyone else?

For those of you who don’t know, the Oculus Rift is a new immersive Virtual Reality gaming headset that’s in development, funded by Kickstarter. A friend of mine is a huge fanboy of the thing, so I’ve heard a lot about it despite not really being that excited about it. Sure, I’d love to try one, and may even buy one (or Sony’s shameless ripoff, the Morpheus) when it comes out (or maybe wait for version 2 when they have all of the bugs worked out), but I’ve never been ravenously excited about it like some people. I’m definitely in the “wait and see” crowd, but I am hopeful.

So a few days ago news surfaced that Oculus VR is being bought by Facebook for two billion USD. That’s twice what they paid for Instagram at the height of its popularity, quite impressive for a company who, developer previews aside, doesn’t actually have a consumer-ready product yet. And yes, I agree with the point that they needed the backing of a big-name company; VR has been done so badly in the past, and a lot of people aren’t so sure Kickstarter projects will ever be successful. So here’s the part where you came in: why Facebook? They’ve never really done anything like this. They’re a SaaS company, interested only in collecting as much data about you as possible and selling ads to demographics. And they’re darn good at it too. The closest thing they’ve done was the Facebook smartphone, whose failure was both predictable and complete. Yes, this is a completely different situation, but my point is Facebook doesn’t have a good track record Continue reading