Facebook’s Oculus had plenty of new announcements to make at its fourth Connect developer conference yesterday, but it all started with an ambitious goal set by CEO Mark Zuckerberg: to get one billion people into VR.
Zuckerberg set this lofty ambition at the beginning of yesterday’s keynote. The CEO’s opening speech spent a lot of time covering the wide audience that VR will one day cover, highlighting examples of apps that educate, games that entertain and even unexpected customers that have embraced the platform already.
“When we run up against the limits of reality, VR is going to make our reality that much better, so we’re setting a goal,” Zuckerberg explained. “We want to get a billion people in virtual reality.”
It’s a tall order for sure; nearly an eighth of the entire population of the world using VR seems like a distant dream. Crucially, Zuckerberg didn’t set a time limit for that goal, nor did he specify if getting people into VR meant specifically selling a billion VR devices, Oculus or otherwise, so there’s a little wiggle room there.
“There are going to be challenges to work through,” he added. “We have to build a safe environment and make sure that virtual reality is a force for good in the world. And we have to make sure that virtual reality is accessible to everyone.”
The rest of the Connect keynote was essentially formed around the idea of getting more people into VR. Zuckerberg next introduced Oculus Go, an affordable, accessible standalone VR headset that will be launching early next year, for example, while the Oculus Rift’s price was again dropped to $399. New business-focused Rift bundles were also introduced and the latest work on the Santa Cruz standalone was shown too.
Even with all these advances, VR is a long way off from reaching a billion people. Sony’s PlayStation VR has shifted a million units, and there are at least five million Gear VR owners out there. It’s going to be a long road to Facebook’s goal for sure.