To the people who invested the most in Oculus VR and their nascent virtual reality company – the ones who donated to its Kickstarter campaign and eagerly followed the technology as it matured – Facebook's surprise acquisition was a walk into a room, record-scratching, head-turning, what the absolute f*ck moment.
The big question was what the hell is Facebook going to do to it?
Well, according to Oculus VR CEO Brendan Iribe, the initial impact of having Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg around could be in the first consumer Oculus Rift's price.
Here's what Iribe told Ars Technica:
"I think [the Facebook buyout] is going to allow us to deliver consumer V1 at a lower cost, because we're not trying to drive a high margin on this. [Facebook CEO] Mark [Zuckerberg], especially, wants to bring the cost down, him more than me. I do, too, but at the same time we were planning to run a business, hopefully a break-even [or] profitable business off of this, not a money-losing business. Mark is much more in the mindset of 'Let's get this to scale with the best quality product at the lowest cost possible.'"
"I'm hopeful we're not going to be losing money on [the hardware], but I think everybody agrees that if we can do it at cost that would be great for everybody. As Mark says, as you start to get to race to scale there are a lot of opportunities to monetize that are really great for consumers, because they get a really low-cost product."
So, both Iribe and Zuckerberg (and the latter to a higher degree) feel that selling at cost would be great for everybody. Not that that's going to happen, but it sure sounds like Iribe knows the first consumer version of the Oculus Rift isn't going to be a money-making machine.
In fact, he told Ars that he's just looking for a little over a million units sold in the first Oculus Rift's lifetime.
Iribe went on say that as far as the actual composition of the device, Facebook's acquisition came too late in the game to have much of an effect. But,
"It is going to allow us to deliver a much better consumer V2, that's for sure. Hardware-wise, we were pretty locked in already [for Version 1]...but [Facebook] will allow us to make consumer V2 totally incredible."
Or make V2 super creepy. We'll have to wait and see about that one. V1 will be out next year.
Image via OculusVR.com