At last year’s Oculus Connect developer conference, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg came out at the start of the keynote speech for a brief few words. This year? He had a lot more to share.
Zuckerberg again marched onto the stage in San Jose yesterday morning following a short introduction from Facebook CEO Brenden Iribe. He was bullish about VR’s progress in the few years since Facebook purchased Oculus. “Our industry has made more progress in the last couple of years than any of us really could have hoped for,” he said, though he also acknowledged a “slow start” for the Oculus Rift earlier this year thanks to shipping problems.
A slide later noted that one million people a month were now using VR headsets. Zuckerberg didn’t provide specifics for that impressive statistic, but it’s likely one that includes all VR headsets and not just Oculus platforms. That said, earlier this year Oculus revealed that Gear VR, its mobile VR headset made in partnership with Samsung, had seen one million users in April. Oculus isn’t providing specific statistics to help us analyse and verify this data, but it would be fascinating to work out the divides in headset usage.
The result? A VR industry that’s growing. “We have Samsung invested in virtual reality, we have Valve and HTC investing in virtual reality, we have Google and others,” Zuckerberg said before announcing Facebook’s own plans for future investment. It was surprising to hear him acknowledge the competition at a venue like OC3, but also encouraging considering products like the HTC Vive and the upcoming Google Daydream headsets are just as important as the Rift and Gear.
This was far from all the Facebook CEO had to talk about at Oculus Connect 3. He also introduced new social features for the Oculus Rift and Touch, and even provided a brief teaser of a new standalone VR headset with inside out tracking. We went hands-on with the latter, which is hugely promising.