March 26 - Facebook is betting that virtual reality will go beyond gaming to become the next big communication platform. Fred Katayama reports.
Facebook takes the offensive as it dives into the wearable computing world. It's shelling out $2 billion for a two-year-old maker of virtual reality goggles for gaming, Oculus VR. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is betting that that technology could become the next big communication platform that'll go well beyond gaming. Developers have shown interest in creating apps for uses in architecture, cars, and education, among other things. Oculus is Facebook's second multi-billion dollar purchase this year after WhatsApp. Piper Jaffray senior analyst Gene Munster said: "We believe that Oculus is a big bet on the future of visual computing and we may see Oculus as Facebook's 'Android' moment 10 years from now and understand the point of the acquisition." Other analysts warn that two big acquisitions could distract the company from its core business and that returns could be distant. Venture capitalists like Andreessen Horowitz and Spark Capital scored big time on their investment. But not the little guy. Oculus is one of the most successful companies to emerge from the crowdfunding site Kickstarter. Those who pitched in $25 get a T-shirt and a sincere thank you. Those who gave 10 bucks just get a thank you.