Mark Zuckerberg’s Oculus trial transcript reveals his vision for Facebook VR
The trial that may cost Facebook $500 million in damages is over, but a transcript of Mark Zuckerberg’s comments under intense questioning on the stand has shed more light on his vision for virtual reality.
Facing tough questioning from the opposing attorney from ZeniMax (which accused Oculus of misappropriating trade secrets), Zuckerberg bobbed and weaved his way around pretty much any comment that might get him or Facebook in trouble, keeping his answers as short as possible.
But when it came to elaborating on exactly why he dropped billions to acquire Oculus, Zuckerberg’s enthusiasm for VR repeatedly prompted him to expound in detail on the present and future of the technology at Facebook.
“The mission for Facebook is to give people more tools to be able to share their experiences,” said Zuckerberg, according to a court transcript obtained by UploadVR. “From my perspective nothing can do that better than being able to capture a whole scene like you can in VR where you can capture it, and then you can put on a headset and you can feel like you’re there.”
However, Zuckerberg isn’t fooling himself, and realizes that, as amazing as some of the experiences are, we’re still in early days.
“I don’t think that good virtual reality is fully there yet,” said Zuckerberg. “It’s going to take five or 10 more years of development before we get to where we all want to go, where there’s both that great experience that is affordable enough for everyone to be able to use and where you have the software experiences … that people want to use.”
That hasn’t stopped Facebook from aggressively moving into social VR with the new Facebook Spaces app (released months after the trial), but based on a casual look at the social media and VR landscape, it doesn’t seem like the app has taken off with users.
“Right now … there are a few games that people might like, but it is certainly not a mature ecosystem in the way that mobile is,” said Zuckerberg, later launching into another example of why he’s devoted to VR despite the long-term commitment necessary.
There’s something that’s much more powerful about that than just a phone call or even a video call
“My sister lives across the country from me and I want to see her,” said Zuckerberg. “I can go into a [VR] space where I feel like I’m physically there with her … There’s something that’s much more powerful about that than just a phone call or even a video call, which are good technologies, but the feeling like you are physically there with someone is just a visceral thing that I think we as people feel.”
Other comments from Facebook’s CEO during the trial may give fans of Oculus Rift and Touch hardware some cause for concern, as it’s clear he’s more interested in VR software as a platform than fighting for space in the increasingly crowded VR hardware space.
“Facebook is an app that runs on phones, but we don’t own the phones or run the phones,” said Zuckerberg. “So my first reaction upon seeing what they had built with VR was, wow, this is a platform where you could build some amazing social experiences … so whoever builds an active network and community around that social experience first, I think, has the best shot of building out those social experiences for the world … just buying a headset or virtual reality product isn’t that useful if there isn’t good content — right?”
Reading the virtual tea leaves, it’s hard not to think that, while Facebook may indeed remain committed to VR for the next decade and beyond, the future of Oculus hardware is a lot less certain.