Oculus has been making amazing strides in the field of virtual reality, and has kept many people excited about the future. And there’s no denying that social is one interesting application of virtual reality. (Personally, I think Skype conversations using Oculus technology could be phenomenal.)
However, I find Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus is concerning on several fronts: 1) they are an advertising company, 2) they seem to have staying power in the lives of many people, and 3) the acquisition could easily limit Oculus’ ability to disrupt many other fields.
An Advertiser’s Tool
Facebook is very competent at connecting people, but at heart, they are an advertiser. They have shown themselves extremely capable at acquiring all sorts of information about individuals that businesses can use for targeted advertising. And the Oculus should give them many more ways to acquire information about you.
Facebook’s Staying Power
People generally don’t love Facebook, but so many use it because everyone they know uses it. And it seems to be outlasting previous social networks. It has the potential to be a long-lasting part of the social landscape. This dedication, with the addition of Oculus devices, conjures in my mind images of a society of Geordis—People as attached to their VR as they currently are to their phones. Facebook most certainly desires such a string attachment to a device integrated with their platform. Will the same nervousness surround Facebook Oculus as has surrounded Google Glass?
Oculus in Other Fields
Owned by a commercial, sharing giant, Oculus could be seen with great skepticism by fields that may have otherwise benefitted from the technology. I doubt Facebook’s willingness to share the VR technology separate from their social platform.
I currently see this as a very unfortunate turn of events when it comes to development of VR.