Mark Zuckerberg: VR isn't a 2020 thing, but hopefully isn't a 2030 thing

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg acknowledges that virtual reality is taking a little bit longer than expected.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Five years since acquiring Oculus and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg still lacks clarity on when virtual reality will become a mainstream technology.

In an interview with CNET's Scott Stein, Zuckerberg was asked about mainstream adoption and said:

I don't think it's a 2020 thing. But hopefully it's not a 2030 thing. If you think about how we use screens, phones are the ones we bring with us, but half of our time with screens is TVs. I think VR is TV and AR is phones.

Well, it's a good thing Facebook only forked over $2 billion for Oculus. That price is chump change relative to unicorn valuations that don't hold up under public market scrutiny. Yes, folks, you could blow more dough on a pet project.

What's notable about virtual and augmented reality is that the use cases are more likely to be all about business at first. Oculus did highlight a Farmer's Insurance demo and those use cases typically pop up with the likes of HP, Lenovo, Microsoft, and HTC.

Also: The business guide to AR and VR: Everything you need to know

And that brings me to the second nugget in the CNET article. Zuckerberg took a swipe at rivals Apple, Google and Amazon.

He's also clear that Facebook is the company -- the only company -- that should be leading the move into a future in which we work, play and interact inside these virtual and augmented worlds. And then he takes a thinly veiled dig at rivals Apple, Google, Microsoft and maybe even Magic Leap.

"It'll probably turn out pretty different if we're helping to shape this versus any of the other companies that might work on it, who I think are more inclined to push a model that's more just around 'here's your app, here's your content, I'm gonna pull it from a store,'" he says. "We want to help shape the next computing platform to be more about interacting with people and not just apps and tasks."

More about interacting with people.

Once you digest that statement, it's clear Zuckerberg is applying his Facebook view on VR. Facebook's world is foster interaction with people, collect data and sell ads. Trust and privacy are not going to be insignificant hurdles for VR---especially if Facebook is leading the charge.

SEE: Mixed reality in business (ZDNet/TechRepublic special feature) | Download the free PDF version (TechRepublic)

As for actual product news, Oculus outlined hand tracking on the Oculus Quest for more natural interaction, more software updates, content platform Oculus Link and Oculus Go apps on Quest. There's also a beta for Facebook Horizon, a VR world under beta.

Those updates to Oculus will be helpful to the adoption cause, which is going to take years to develop.   

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