Mark Zuckerberg Explains Why He’s Still Committed To VR

by Ian Hamilton • April 26th, 2018

Facebook held its quarterly earnings call today to update investors on the company’s performance, and in a Q&A session someone asked about VR.

It was a well-timed question coming ahead of the launch of Oculus Go, Facebook’s first standalone VR headset, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took the opportunity to respond. Though his answer is nothing surprising — we’ve heard a lot of it before — he also pretty succinctly explained why VR continues to be so important to the company.

Here’s a transcript of Zuckerberg’s answer about VR:

I think the big picture is that every 10-15 years or so there’s a major new computing paradigm. Whether that’s DOS, then Windows and desktop UI, then Web browsers and now mobile phones and apps. So it strikes me as inevitable that that progression will continue. And each one gets to be more natural to interact with. More natural gestures for controlling. More immersive. More portable. It strikes me as very likely the next one is going to be around virtual and augmented reality.

We’re investing a lot in this because, frankly, we haven’t to date been a hardware company or an operating system company. We think that we need to build up a lot of different muscles in order to be competitive and be able to succeed in that space and to be able to shape that space.

One of my great regrets in how we’ve run the company so far is I feel like we didn’t get to shape the way that mobile platforms developed as much as would be good, because they were developed contemporaneously with Facebook early on. iOS and Android came out around 2007, we were a really small company at that point. That just wasn’t a thing that we were working on.

People should really be at the center of how we design technology. It shouldn’t be designed around apps, it should be designed around our relationships because that’s what matters to people and that’s not the world we’re on on mobile. I really am very committed to this idea of making sure the next platform reflects those values that Facebook stands for.

This is going to be an exciting year. Oculus Go is coming out. We have the prototype and the developer kit around the higher end standalone coming out as well. We’re doing a number of other things that I think are going to be quite exciting over time as well.

I don’t know exactly when it’s going to be a big deal. When we started talking about this I said that I thought this was going to be a 10-year journey before this was really a mainstream major platform, and I think the reality is that Facebook needs to be investing before it is a big thing.

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  • johngrimoldy

    ….Because if VR gets as big as expected, being one of the largest platforms will give FB unprecedented access to detailed personal information of subscribers.

    • Ted Joseph

      Bleh bleh bleh… I am having a blast in VR… Can’t wait for the GO and Santa Cruz….

      • johngrimoldy

        I’m having a blast too. “Bleh bleh bleh” isn’t really a compelling counter-argument.

    • Tharny

      Bring out the tinfoil hats.

      • NooYawker

        So you’re saying Facebook didn’t abuse everyone’s privacy? Did you see the full page apology ad or anything that was said during the congressional hearing with Zuckerberg?

        • Still a stretch w/ VR considering FB didn’t create the Rift.

          • NooYawker

            It’s a stretch to say a company that built a billion dollar company from siphoning and selling user data is going to do the same with a company they paid 3 billion dollars for? Is it really a stretch????

          • A stretch to say they’ll do they by using the cameras to watch you when they were already designed before facebook took over.

            Don’t know how useful VR data would be to those outside VR Industry.

          • NooYawker

            So the cameras were designed before Facebook took over therefore Facebook will not use the video? Does that even make sense?
            Did you know you can establish illness by a persons movement? There’s is a massive amount of data that can be collected by videotaping a person.
            I’m not even sure if you’re just trolling me right now.

          • Sandy Wich

            These people are run of the mill idiots man, just walk away. Anyone who calls people crazy over privacy concerns over a known privacy invasion corporation is genuinely ill. That, or maybe just blindly fanatical to the Oculus Rift. Much like a Playstation fan recently tbh.

          • johngrimoldy

            I’d lean more toward exuberant fanatacism. Not really idiot. No blind fanatic likes to be told their emperor isn’t wearing any clothes. I like the Rift myself. ‘Just try maintain some perspective on who is behind Oculus and their business model.

    • daveinpublic

      I hope you’re not an Android user, cause if you’re an Android user and don’t know Google runs your phone’s OS, you’re not gonna be happy.

      Any hardware or software you get that is free will need to be subsidized by your data. When Apple comes out with an AR headset, maybe this year, you’ll be able to have some privacy for a premium. For any other low priced alternatives, there will be some data taken for ads (that the government will have access to when it needs). I personally will buy an Oculus Go, because I don’t care if FB (and gov’t) has some generic data on me, but I like having the option to share less, too, so I own some Apple products.

      • NooYawker

        See this is a reasonable response. You understand the privacy issues, and you are fine with it, up to a point. You do what you feel comfortable with. You make purchases of products and services with full knowledge. Your life, your choice. I respect that.

        But for the people who outright deny the privacy issues with Facebook is just being in ignorant.

    • Bundy

      They already have that. FB knows way more about you from your social media posts and likes than they ever will from the VR games you play.

      • NooYawker

        I dunno, I think surrounding your room with cameras gives pretty good insight.

        • At least those cameras existed before FB stepped in.

      • johngrimoldy

        I agree… Sort of. FB knows an alarming amount about people that fully immerse themselves in the FB world. Will they get as much from VR data? No. However, the data they’ll get will be more invasive than most deniers think.

        Just off the top of my head:
        -The Games you buy
        -When you play
        -How long you play
        -How frequently you play
        -Your skill level
        -Who you play with

        For games, is this really a big deal? I dunno. For social collaboration apps like BigScreen, Rec Room, and eventual derivatives? I think so. Conversations could be monitored.

        Tinfoil hat? No. Reality. I don’t have anything to hide. That doesn’t mean that I’m okay with my privacy (and yours) being forfeited. I’m sure that Zuckerdouchenozzle will issue another apology and everything will be just fine after they get caught exploiting more of everyone’s data.

  • impurekind

    Makes sense . . . but I’m not quite sure his view of it being about people is the same as my view about what such a view actually should mean.

  • jarjarplinks

    I don’t have a Rift (Vive owner) or use Facebook but appreciate their commitment to VR. VR clearly isn’t profitable for either Facebook or HTC. And HTC have been showing the signs of this difficulty. Facebook has the money to invest and lose in the early years to reach this ambition. Like it or not, we need the likes of Facebook, Google and Apple to push VR ahead to accelerate the technology and push it into the mainstream.

    • ummm…

      id guess that valve has plenty of money for RD. htc just needs to manufacture it.

      • jarjarplinks

        Valve are an anomaly of sorts, working at their own seemingly snail pace of perfection. If HTC are completely bound to the Valve RD schedule it’s pretty bad for HTC. Maybe Valve have a master plan on the HMD they’ve yet to reveal. All we know is how long it’s taking for those knuckles controllers to come to us and the fabled 3 VR games they’ve promised. Maybe these new controllers and games are linked so one is holding back the other? Valve will deliver in full I’m sure, but for 2018?

        • ummm…

          2018 isn’t looking like very much anyhow. I haven’t heard of any huge AAA games. No industry changing tech, or not any that is integrated. We keep getting these casual, price conscious VR hmds that aren’t for the PC enthusiast necessarily. When 2.0 comes I’ll care again. But, im not here to play phone apps on a gear. I’m fine that valve is taking their time because what is really out there at the moment anyhow? What can they offer us to truly excited us? There aren’t the applications necessarily.

          • jarjarplinks

            2018 does seem to be a bit of a dud for VR tech so far. I’d say that’s a reflection of the general sale of HMDs over the past 2 years. Casual VR isn’t of any interest to me but I do appreciate how important it is to make the overall long term VR ecosystem sustainable. If that fails then 2.0 for PC may be in trouble of ever appearing.

          • ummm…

            i think that it will stay, but have a much slower growth curve. if the big players can’t manage to convince people to use and convince devs and partners to create, then even casual vr may be in trouble. Two years on vr video is still in a sorry state, and big events producers still dont understand how to turn a vr/ar headset into an everyday use multimedia device. Give us concernts and sporting events with hq stereoscopic broadcasts. At the queens jubilee, donald trumps inauguration, nba finals, mark zuckerburg at congress, world cup, grammy’s, space station, instead of webcams have vr webcams – id try those (im sure they have some but low quality). anyway, i hope for 2.0

        • NooYawker

          Valve is one of the few companies around that is still a private company. No stock holders, no appeasing investors, Newell pretty much does whatever the hell he feels like. Sometimes it’s great, sometimes it sucks, any other company would have released HL3 by now. But then again, every other company would be on HL 10 by now and most of them would be shitty. Newell likes VR and is investing in it.
          They announced they’re working on 3 VR games, which i doubt we’ll see for years.

      • Hone McBone

        I’m just looking forward to seeing more companies other than HTC using Valve’s VR resources.

        • ummm…

          that could be interesting, but that could also fracture valves efforts. one close relationship in the early phases is probably the best, as long as both sides are competent.

    • NooYawker

      Facebook doesn’t spend money to get direct profits. i.e. Whatsapp for 19 Billion dollars. Do they expect to produce profits from Whatsapp to make up 19 BILLION dollars?? No. Private data. That is FB’s bread and butter and with the Rift using cameras as sensors, VR gives FB unprecedented access to their users.

      • jarjarplinks

        If you’re saying the cameras are used to spy on people, proof would be useful as that’s a bold claim.

        • NooYawker

          Yea like how people swore up and down Facebook didn’t abuse your data. Until his confessions, full page apologies and all the other revelations came out. I guess you can’t fix stupid.

          • jarjarplinks

            Sony use cameras for tracking too, it’s hardly unique. Are they spying too? Keep that tinfoil hat firmly on your noggin dude. If stupid is sane, I’ll happily remain stupid.

          • NooYawker

            How does Facebook make profits?
            How does Sony make profits?
            Now use that peanut brain of yours and put 2 and 2 together.

          • jarjarplinks

            Just return to your safe hole in the ground you ranting maniac. When you can prove your theory beyond basic math maybe I’ll take notice. Until then I won’t engage with you further as you have nothing worth listening too.

          • NooYawker

            It’s a pretty simple question, you don’t seem to want to answer.
            How does Facebook make it’s profits.

          • jarjarplinks

            My answer is PROVE IT then? If you respond, my reply will likely be prove it. I don’t have a Rift or use Facebook, I’m neutral in regards to Facebook. For some reason no one has uncovered the Rift camera spying feature beyond your conclusion. Why is that I wonder. Hmmmmm. Prove it?

          • NooYawker

            It’s has already been proven that Facebook blatantly abuses users private data. What makes this data any different?
            To say John Gotti is a mafia boss who steals for a living but the money he used to buy his home is not stolen money.

            I’ll just answer the question for you. Facebook makes it’s money by gathering private user data, crate profiles and sells the data to companies like Cambridge Analytica. They also use the data to create and push focused ads.

            So for anyone to think they won’t be using data gathered from the oculus is flat out, idiotic.

          • Kaelen

            Oculus just released a revised privacy statement informing its users that the cameras in the sensors do record activity – but such that it is:
            1. not a video, but rather it periodically takes a snapshot of the user’s position in relations to the position of controllers, headset and sensors.
            2. not tied to your oculus/facebook account. All data collected is done so anonymously & is not sold, but used by Oculus to improve software.

            Now, whether they’re actually using the data for product suggestions INTERNALLY is entirely possible – but WHY in the world would Facebook risk putting themselves in the same situation when they were nearly run into the ground over the whole Cambridge Analytica scandal?

            Haven’t you noticed that Facebook/Oculus are not the only companies updating their privacy policy to reflect a more accurate description of what data is being collected & what is being done with it? This has been a wake up call to the entire industry.

            Therefore, IMHO, the ones paranoid over their data being collected and sold are just that – paranoid. You’ve got to think as well, tech companies are notoriously liberal. Seeing that this data scandal may have contributed to Russia’s agenda to get a conservative in office & cause internal unrest, this was a big slap in the Facebook. Especially considering rumors of Zuck’s intention to run for president in 2020.

            And to answer your question, NooYawker: ADVERTISING, ya dipshit. They don’t need to sell your data when they can use it themselves.

          • NooYawker

            Ok, this is my last response to morons like you.

            Zuckerberg CONFESSED to abusing users data and took out a full page apology over it.

            Zuckerberg SOLD user data to Cambridge Analytics and many other companies.
            FACTS.
            So if you choose to ignore reality then no one can help you.

          • Kaelen

            Please re-read. I never said they didn’t already do it. “WHY would they put themselves in the same situation?”

            Your tin hat may be cutting circulation to your brain.

          • NooYawker

            Why? Billions of dollars in profits that’s why. He isn’t being punished for it that’s why.
            It’s like saying a mobster was arrested for stealing so he’s never going to steal again. Listen, feel free to be as stupid as you like and believe he isn’t going to do it again. I’m not going to argue with you morons about this again. Can’t fix stupid.

          • Kaelen

            wrong

          • Konchu

            I think the profits for Facebook in VR is simple as it is stated here to be the shapers of this tech. I don’t think its going to be literal camera spying as that is too damn easy to get their asses handed to them on a silver platter. But if social networking goes virtual and PC’s go virtual they have to do this to stay relevant. So I think this is a calculated move to stay ahead so they don’t become MySpace. Will they still make there money off of users all signs point to yes but to what degree of sleezyness? Well that will change for sure with all the flack they are taking now.

          • Sandy Wich

            If in this age of privacy rape that’s going viral across the world in almost every industry you call people crazy for believing one of the absolute worst, proven, global invaders of privacy is capable of spying on people through their own branded webcams either vocally or visually, you really are stupid.

            I’d call you ignorant, but that’s innocent. You’re intentionally ignorant. The worst kind of stupidity, one that backs up against a wall, behaves like a fool, invites the arrow to pierce on the off chance it may never come.

            You should be ashamed of yourself.

  • MarquisDeSang

    I want the Octopus Rift to capture video of me playing VR Kanojo from the 3 sensors (web cams).

  • Hone McBone

    He’s committed because he has shareholders to ultimately answer to & they expect him to return on any investments.

  • Sandy Wich

    What was the specific question asked about VR? I don’t think I saw it mentioned in the article?.. Based on the answer it seems like there was lingering doubt?

    You’d have to be crazy to doubt your companies commitment to VR at this point. FB being on top of this technology with the Rift, especially if it completes it’s foveated rendering/inside out tracking all in one unit research is very likely printing billions of dollars in the future.

    Where does the TV industry go now? You can only sell so many more resolution increased before nobody buys new TV’s anymore, don’t they get that?.. VR adult entertainment is exploding, more of the world is single than ever. Gamers want new and innovative ways to play their games, movie goers want to be a part of the adventure, Disabled people would love to take home vacations with VR, Live concerts, VR education, VR hangouts/dating.. The next obvious technology boom is VR.

    At this point It’s almost mind blowing someone would shine doubt upon this technology. It’s more likely now that some type of VR will be in every modern household within the next 10 years rather than it being a fad and going away.

    ..This reminds me when mobile phones were just becoming a thing. So many doubters… So many were wrong. Some things in life are so amazing, that they’re worth taking a big risk on.