Facebook Buys Oculus Rift. What Are the Benefits of This $2 Billion Acquisition?

By Sergey Galyonkin from Kyiv, Ukraine (Orlovsky and Oculus Rift  Uploaded by Yakiv Gluck) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Sergey Galyonkin from Kyiv, Ukraine (Orlovsky and Oculus Rift Uploaded by Yakiv Gluck) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

You’re probably one of the many who wondered what Zuckerberg was thinking when the news about Facebook acquiring Oculus Rift came out. Even more perplexing, Facebook buys Oculus Rift for $2 billion! It’s not a secret how Facebook phones failed. What could have convinced them to venture into a new hardware product?

The inventor of Oculus Rift was criticized and even threatened for selling the VR technology away. There were many negative reactions. Apparently, fans of the virtual reality headset  are unhappy about the prospect of having to deal with Facebook when it comes to Oculus Rift. This could likely mean that Facebook will not be benefiting from the established fans by simply buying Oculus Rift.

But what is it that made Facebook decide to buy the VR technology? Is there anything so compelling in Oculus Rift that Facebook agreed to paying $2 billion for the acquisition? The following points, as opined by a number of observers, may shed light on these questions.

By Sebastian Stabinger (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Sebastian Stabinger (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

1. Virtual Reality could be the next big thing after mobile.

In his first try using the VR headset, Zuckerberg commented that it felt different from anything he had experienced in his life.  The founder and CEO of Facebook was so impressed with Oculus Rift that this must be the reason he himself instigated the deal to acquire the VR tech company.

“Strategically we want to start building the next major computing platform that will come after mobile,” said Zuckerberg in a conference call with MIT Technology Review. The decision to buy Oculus Rift is in line with Facebook’s goal of building the “knowledge economy.” Zuckerberg added that “there are not many things that are candidates to be the next major computing platform” and that the purchase is a “long-term bet on the future of computing.” Of course, this is still arguable considering how wearable technology still fails to take off in the same manner smartphones or mobile computers have become very popular.

2. Facebook wants to be at the forefront of building a new computing platform.

The Oculus Rift is not only viewed by Facebook as a gaming peripheral. There’s more to the virtual reality gaming offered by such a headset. As Zuckerberg pointed out, the history of computing has shown how new computing platforms emerge and eventually dominate. Facebook does not want to be left out. The top 5 tech company (based on market value) is not satisfied in simply dominating the social media space.

Microsoft ruled the desktop operating system, Apple started the smartphone revolution, while Google dominated the mobile operating system by going beyond the Internet and into the mobile devices used by almost everyone. For Facebook to remain relevant, it has to start venturing into something that can make it define the future.

By Sebastian Stabinger (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Sebastian Stabinger (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

3. With its mass market power, Facebook can bring Oculus Rift to the market more quickly.

Many were surprised by how fast Oculus Rift’s owners agreed to the purchase. There have also been serious disapprovals on the sale. One of the harsher criticisms comes from Minecraft creator, Markus Persson. In a tweet expressing his utter disapproval, Persson said that he just canceled the deal to have an Oculus Rift VR version of Minecraft. He worried that the sale would be harmful to the Oculus vision.

Still, despite the opposing views, it’s difficult not to acknowledge that Facebook has both the popularity and money to make Oculus Rift more successful. The acquisition has a clearer benefit for Oculus Rift than for Facebook. Fans of the VR tech may be unnecessarily getting disgruntled about the purchase.

4. The closed and managed ecosystem that Facebook would bring to Oculus Rift may not really be a bad thing.

Facebook, just like Apple, is known for creating closed ecosystems. Fans of Oculus Rift are worried that the openness may soon totally disappear with Facebook at the helm. This is not necessarily a bad thing, though. While openness is preferable when it come to tinkering with devices and expanding capabilities, most consumers are not really that bothered by the lack of it. Take a look at Apple, for instance. iPhones, iPads, and iPods have been selling well despite the highly closed and unilaterally managed iOS ecosystem. it would be good to consider that at some point, ceasing openness can benefit a technology for it to become more compatible with the mass market.

By Tmfroehlich (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Tmfroehlich (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Acquisitions in the tech world are hardly surprising. They happen all the time. It’s just exciting to find out what would become of Oculus Rift in the hands of Facebook. Will it stagnate? Will it become ad-laden? The best or the worst is yet to come but it’s not something gaming or tech consumers should be worried about.