After its phenomenal Whatsapp acquisition, Facebook is now en route to purchase Oculus VR, the virtual-reality-headset company for $2 billion. The social media giant announced that it has reached a definitive agreement to buy Oculus and the deal includes $400 million in cash and $1.6 billion in stock with an additional $300 million if Oculus meets specified performance targets. The agreement is expected to close in the second quarter of 2014 while Oculus will continue to function independently from its headquarters.
The leader in immersive virtual reality technology and best known for its Rift gaming device, Oculus has already gained great attention from developers. It has received more than 75, 000 orders for the Oculus Rift. Several industries are already experimenting with the virtual reality technology beyond gaming. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, said that Oculus can change the way people work, play and communicate on Facebook and create the most social platform ever.
Oculus’ existing supremacy in gaming will be extended to new verticals such as media and entertainment, communications, education and other areas. In his blog, Zuckerberg explains immersive gaming will be the first focus when Oculus merges with Facebook since the former already has big plans regarding this. He says the Facebook team will focus on helping Oculus to develop their products and build partnerships to support more games. The big part comes after this first phase, making Oculus a new communication platform. As per Zuckerberg, this communication platform can provide the users with many amazing experiences that would create the feeling that they are truly present in a particular environment (for example, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world) or consulting a doctor just by putting on goggles in one’s home. It will also provide the opportunity to share not only the light moments, but also entire experiences and adventures with friends online. Brendan Iribe, CEO of Oculus VR says that they are excited to work with the Facebook team to introduce the very best virtual reality platform in the world.
It is estimated that at least half a billion people around the world are socializing through avatars (digital representations of oneself), for instance, in online games. Avatars may be sent even to work-related meetings and presentations, as some industry experts predict. Coming to social media, at least a billion people use social media. IEEE Spectrum’s special report on the future of the social web (published in 2011) clearly states that virtual reality and social networks will be a powerful combination. The report says there is evidence that the use of avatars can intensely alter our social behavior and work performance. It also suggests there are special advantages with avatars. If a videoconference system continuously captures the movements in the real world and sends the data (image) to another locale, avatar technology captures only selected movements and sends only enough information over a network that the computer at the other end needs to re-create action. This will make avatars show many things that a camera fails to capture or the motions ignored by the system. Since there is no need to send bandwidth-hogging HD pixels, it is possible to control avatars without any network delay. When virtual reality technology is merged with social network, we can expect the emergence of new possibilities of video marketing.
According to Zuckerberg, virtual reality was once a dream just as internet, computers and smartphones were and the future is coming with enormous possibilities. Facebook is looking forward to utilize the chance to bring this future to the world with the Oculus team. Undoubtedly, we can expect to see more effective social media marketing opportunities unfold in the near future.