- Facebook is intensifying its push to make Virtual Reality (VR) mainstream.
- Facebook is working with Samsung on a new $99 version of the Gear VR headset powered by Oculus Rift technology, expected to be available in November.
- Fox and Liongate will bring films to the Oculus VR Cinema app.
- Netflix app for Oculus Rift launched.
- Microsoft announces Minecraft: Windows 10 Edition, with Rift support.
Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is intensifying its push to make Virtual Reality (VR) mainstream, CNBC reports. At the Oculus developer conference, Facebook's unveiled a lower-cost version of its Oculus Rift VR headset and new media partnerships that aim to bring Facebook VR technology to the mainstream.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg often said that virtual reality will be the next major computing platform, The Wall Street Journal reports. Facebook "is committed to [virtual reality] for the long-term," said Zuckerberg. "We’re going to work hard to serve this community.”
Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe said "this is the dawn of VR and this is a once in a generational moment that we can create something that inspires millions of people," TechCrunch reports.
Facebook is working with Samsung on a new $99 version of the Gear VR headset powered by Oculus Rift technology, expected to be available in November, that will work with Samsung’s newest phones. It seems likely that the availability of a full VR headset at low cost will boost the adoption of VR. Another new device, Oculus Touch, which will allow users to pick up objects and interact within a virtual reality world, is projected to be available in the second quarter of next year.
Oculus users will now have access to more games, including an "Oculus Arcade" with VR versions of classics video games like "Pacman" and "Sonic the Hedgehog." Hollywood studios Fox and Lionsgate will bring movies to the Oculus Rift in an attempt to re-create the experience of watching a movie on a big screen. Fox will bring more than 100 movies into the Oculus Store at launch, to watch the films within the Oculus VR Cinema app.
The current version of the Oculus VR Cinema app doesn't offer a full VR experience yet, but it's an important preliminary step. This is "just a 360 video," said Zuckerberg at the developers conference. "In the future you're going to feel like you're right there." Zuckerberg added that Facebook is committed to bringing the full power of VR to consumers. "There is always a richer and more immersive medium," he said. "The next logical step is fully immersive VR."
There is now a Netflix app for Oculus. Gizmodo notes that the opportunity for movies is unquestionably huge. "I watched Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) in VR and now reality Seems hollow and pointless," is the title of Gizmodo's first hands-on review of the Netflix app on a Gear VR headset. Legendary VR developer and Oculus CTO John Carmack has written a technical development review of the Netflix app for Oculus. There is also an Oculus app from video game streaming company Twitch, and Hulu, Vimeo and TiVo apps are expected to come soon.
In June, Amigobulls reported that Microsoft and Facebook were partnering to usher in a new era of virtual reality gaming. Now, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) announced that a new version of the wildly popular Minecraft game will support Oculus Rift and will be available for purchase in both the Windows Store and the Oculus Store in spring 2016.
"The Oculus Rift will immerse you in a virtual reality Minecraft world in which you’ll be able to play Minecraft: Windows 10 Edition in Creative or Survival mode - in full 3D!" states the Microsoft announcement. "And, as with all versions of Minecraft, Minecraft: Windows 10 Edition supports multiplayer so you can play cooperatively and build, mine and explore your virtual world with friends." Microsoft acquired Minecraft for $2.5 billion in 2014.
Global media firms including Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) recently invested $65 million in Silicon Valley virtual-reality startup Jaunt. It seems likely that Disney intends to use VR technology in next-generation VR theme parks. Instead of strapping the user's head in a VR headset, Disney is investigating shared immersive environments that surround many users at a time with high-resolution VR displays. It's clear that VR will boost Disney's ability to offer uniquely compelling content in its theme parks.
But as Disney brings VR to its theme parks, Facebook will bring VR to your own VR headset. This development, together with other ongoing developments of tomorrows technology at Facebook, which is rapidly becoming one of the most advanced tech companies in the world, make Facebook's stock a solid buy and hold.