Facebook Inc., the world’s largest social network is set to acquire for $2 billion a two-year-old Oculus VR Inc, maker of virtual-reality glasses for gaming. The acquisition is the company’s first-ever hardware deal in the fast-growing wearable devices arena.
This acquisition marks a big bet by Facebook to anticipate the next shift in the evolving technology industry. It is expected that wearable devices could represent the next big platform shift. Google Inc has been testing Google Glass, a stamp-sized electronic screen mounted to a pair of eyeglasses for several years. Recently, the big G has already introduced an effort to develop computerized wristwatches.
Facebook co-founder and Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said in a conference call with analysts and media on Tuesday that, “The history of our industry is that every 10 or 15 years there’s a new major computing platform, whether it’s the PC, the Web or now mobile. We’re making a long-term bet that immersive, virtual and augmented reality will become a part of people’s daily life, wearing the Oculus goggles was different than anything I’ve ever experienced in my life.”
Zuckerberg further said that Facebook is not interested to become a hardware company, instead, its software and services would continue to serve as its underlying business. He further reiterated that while Oculus will operate as an independent company, Facebook’s plans for Oculus extended well beyond games. “Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face – just by putting on goggles in your home,” he said.
Facebook is expected to close the acquisition deal in the second quarter and certainly the company’s second multi-billion dollar acquisition since mid-February.