As we all wait patiently for the imminent consumer launch of the Samsung Gear VR, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (aka “Zuck”) spent some time predicting a future for recent acquisition Oculus VR during the company’s earnings call Tuesday.

Zuck’s opening remarks included:

mark zuck zuckerberg“Let’s talk for a minute about the progress of Oculus. As I’ve said before, with Oculus, we’re making a long-term bet on the future of computing. Every 10 to 15 years, a new major computing platform arrives, and we think that virtual and augmented reality are important parts of this upcoming next platform. This quarter, Oculus continued to make progress toward this vision.

In September, the first Oculus developer conference took place, where we announced a new prototype VR headset on the path of a consumer version of the Rift. We continue to see a lot of excitement in the developer community, and we’ve now shipped more than 100,000 Rift developer kits to over 130 countries. It’s still early for Oculus, but we are encouraged to see the variety of applications and games being developed for this platform.”

Later, in the Q&A, analyst Ben Schachter of Macquarie Research asked:

“Mark, now that you’ve spent more time with the Oculus team, can you update us on how your plans for Oculus have evolved since you first tried the device on? And then you mentioned it when you talked about your 10-year outlook. Does that mean we shouldn’t expect any consumer Oculus product in the next one or two years?”

Zuck replied:

“On your questions around Oculus and search and some of the other things that we’re doing; the strategy for Oculus is to help accelerate its growth. It has two products around Rift on PC, and it is supporting Gear VR and the Samsung team and building the mobile version. And I’m really excited about both of them.

Samsung_GearVR_uptrendI don’t think that this is going to be — it needs to reach a very large scale, 50 million to 100 million units, before it will really be a very meaningful thing as a computing platform. So I do think it’s going to take a bunch of years to get there. Maybe, I don’t know, it’s hard to predict exactly, but I don’t think it’s going to get to 50 million or 100 million units in the next few years. So that will take a few cycles of the device to get there, and that’s kind of what I’m talking about.

And then when you get to that scale, that’s when it starts to be interesting as a business in terms of developing out the ecosystem. So when I’m talking about that as a 10-year thing, its building the first set of devices and building the audience and the ecosystem around that until it eventually becomes a business.”

So that’s the skinny.

5 to 10 years to MASS market adoption. It should be noted that videogame platforms are deemed significant when they achieve a mere 10 million installs, so Zuck’s thinking here is that of the modern global industrialist, a genuine VR world domination plan. For more meager aspirations a la Microsoft; they felt like they hit a home run when the first 10 million Xbox consoles sold through way back in 2001. Conclusion: there will be plenty of money to be made along the way.

What do you think?
When will VR “arrive” as a mass market consumer platform?

Make your prediction in the comments below:


3 thoughts on “Zuck’s Rift Timeline :
100 million players by…

  1. VR as such is not in many of our minds all that new for those of us who have for years built VR worlds on the almost 20 year old Active Worlds Platform and a decade of builds to be found on the Second Life servers and other VR platforms.

    My own decision to buy into The Oculus Rift was triggered the moment I heard that Second Life had developed an Oculus compatible 3D browser essentially providing access to a massive amount of existing content. The Oculus Rift certainly adds a uniquely experiential dimension to VR worlds but for almost 20 years people have been suspending their disbelief and diving through their 2D screens to explore the vicarious nature of living through an online avatar, long before the movie or HMDs.

    I think Mr. Zuckerberg is correct about the tremendous social networking and business opportunities that a truly immersive experience implies but the timeline may be shorter than he thinks. A lot of people are primed and ready. There is so much existing and readily available content built over the years by so many creative people who fell in love with the VR genre well in advance of the technology to actually be inside it as we can now. The apps and games we see that are optimized for that Oculus immersive experience are gravy of course and an exciting addition to the genre! 

    Release the Oculus and Gear VR… one can only imagine how society will react but I think millions will be pleasantly surprised at how compelling it all is… an exciting time to live that is for sure!

    1. Paul, I totally agree with you on the need to port content. Obviously, social and exploratory experiences port far better than frenetic first person shooters. As in, I would rather “play” Second Life or explore Myst or Riven than be shot at (or worse) in Gears of War, in 360 immersive VR.

      To quote Nate Mitchell from Oculus Connect, “we think that 1/20th speed may be the fastest you’d ever want to play in Call of Duty on the Rift.”

      I think there will be a healthy market for WorldPorts, even to take people back to their videogame stomping grounds of childhood: The 3D worlds and virtual continents of EverQuest, Asheron’s Call, World of Warcraft… not to mention LOTR, Westeroff, Tatooine etc… all would be immensely fun to simply explore… and as you state, all have already been re-created at various levels of fidelity in richly textured 3D graphics and worldmaps.

      This line of thought is pretty thoroughly explored in Ready Player One, an all-around excellent novel. Let the games begin!

  2. VRBoy, ditto all that and I would agree that the speed of action factor within the Oculus ‘ecosystem’ could be a problem if only for the sheer cost of video card and processor upgrades. Myself, I am still using an old 1Gig video card to surprising effectiveness and have noticed that some VR programmers like the team behind Radial G — have done remarkably well in rendering fast action with little motion sickness or distortion… also, I noticed that hitting F4, toggling sampling off in the Tuscany Demo makes a world or difference, virtually eliminating any judder all together.

    The Second Life viewer is uncanny in the quality of its rendering and many builds like ‘Prehistoria’ in SL are quite nicely rendered as ‘bigger than life’ in scale. Again, it will be the VR platforms perhaps where the immediacy of being able to create your own themes and experimenting with 3D Oculus-ready environments is most attractive. When you compare the real-time build tools within the browser to the rather steep learning curve and cost of Unity and other game oriented software, there is something for everyone to create on a VR platform.

    Presuming a public interest in more experiential concepts within the Rift, the VR world platforms in general, already offer real-time updates and interaction with links throughout the world wide web. This gives them a huge 2D/3D world-bridging advantage over compiled programs that often become obsolete as Operating Systems change and upgrade. As an example, when I recently upgraded my Rift to 4.3 — half of the best demos would not run anymore, this is a huge headache even for those who created great apps for the DK1 and found that the DK2 did not support their tireless efforts. VR platform content development in contrast would be unlikely to suffer this consequence beyond just the browser viewer itself to upgrade.

    My initial excitement in deciding to purchase the DK2 was upon hearing of the Second Life Oculus project simply because it opened up an immediate development tool for experiential builds of my own imagination.

    Regarding the speed of public acceptance of VR technology, Gear VR should demonstrate a phenomenal ‘blockbuster-like growth’ pattern if we analyse over 10 million in sales of the DVD for Avatar, the movie. Cameron’s Avatar introduced millions of people to the concept of vicarious perception through the eyes of an avatar which is not going to be lost of peoples’ first impression of the Oculus Rift technology.

    It’s going to be tough to contain the imaginative ways this technology will be applied… I look forward for instance, to introducing my bed-ridden aunt, currently residing in one of those horrible homes for the aged, to this new form of grand escape into IMAX movie viewing and beyond the infinite with apps like ‘Discovering Space’. The Samsung wireless Gear VR Rift is surely a potential tech, game changer! Yes Indeed let that game change begin 😉

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