In 2014, Facebook acquired the virtual reality startup Oculus for more than $2 billion. “Virtual reality was once the dream of science fiction. But the internet was also once a dream, and so were computers and smartphones,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote then. “One day, we believe this kind of immersive, augmented reality will become a part of daily life for billions of people.”
Zuckerberg’s dream is to make VR a part of everyday life for people across the globe. Over the last three and a half years, Facebook has shipped more than half a million VR headsets and is continuously working on upgrades. In its latest expansion plan, Facebook has decided to manufacture VR headsets for every price point.
Nate Mitchell, an Oculus co-founder who oversees hardware and software, said, “The cheaper we make these devices, the more folks are going to jump in. If we could offer a device at $99, or exaggerate it all the way down to free, we think people would be jumping into VR in a heartbeat.”
“When we were acquired, Mark [Zuckerberg] came out [and said] this is a ten-year journey,” Mitchell told Recode. “We’ve been at Facebook now for three years. Will we get a billion people into VR in the next seven years? I don’t know. It would be awesome. I think it’ll probably take a little bit more than that, but I’m optimistic.”
The company has now launched a new VR headset model: the Oculus Go. Oculus Go is a $199 mobile VR headset that loses the wires, attached computer and sensors you need to power the Rift, which is its previous model. The price for the Rift has also been dropped by $100 to $399. Facebook believes both the Oculus Go and the lower price for the Rift will make it the go-to company for VR tech.
“We believe that the future can be a lot better,” Zuckerberg said in a 15-minute presentation on the first day of the Oculus Connect developer conference in San Jose, California. “It’s not about escaping reality, it’s about making it better.”
“When you put on a VR headset, it holds a screen so close to your face that you’re tricked into thinking you’re actually in a computer-generated world. You might feel, for instance, that you’re traveling in space, or you could look at a model of your heart before surgery,” Zuckerberg said. “We’re legitimately excited about the future, and we’re committed to making it a reality.”