“I mean, virtual reality is pretty cool. We’re working on apps for VR,” Facebook Inc. CPO Chris Cox said this week at Recode’s Code Media conference. “You realize, when you’re in it, that you’re looking at the future, and it’s going to be awesome. When you’re in Facebook, you’re just sending around these bits of experience — a photo, a video, a thought.”
Facebook acquired Oculus for $2 billion in July 2014, and a consumer version of the device is still on the horizon. When Facebook acquired the company, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was optimistic about the future of the technology, writing, “Virtual reality was once the dream of science fiction. But the internet was also once a dream, and so were computers and smartphones. The future is coming and we have a chance to build it together.”
“You’ll do it, Beyoncé will do it”
According to Cox, virtual reality would allow Facebook users to share more than “bits of experience” by enabling fully immersive media. When asked if the average user would be able to create virtual reality content, Cox said, “Totally. You’ll do it, Beyoncé will do it.”
But while the technology to view virtual reality is becoming more available and affordable to the general consumer, producing actual virtual reality content requires highly specialized equipment and strong technical knowledge. With most shared content on Facebook coming from smartphone cameras or shared links, it is unlikely that the average user would be able to take full advantage of virtual reality’s capabilities any time soon.
Cox did not make any predictions about when a virtual reality Facebook would become available, but he said that it will not be “for a while. We’re probably a long way from everyone having these headsets.”
With mobile apps making up the bulk of social media use, virtual reality devices could be the next big market for companies like Facebook. But smartphones and tablets can be used anywhere, and at least for now, VR headsets are a long way off from being fully mobile.