Here’s why the virtual reality company Oculus is like Facebook

It’s not exactly Elton John playing here. But on Wednesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his Facebook peers spent a good deal of time in virtual reality at the company’s VR press conference. The…

Here’s why the virtual reality company Oculus is like Facebook

It’s not exactly Elton John playing here.

But on Wednesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his Facebook peers spent a good deal of time in virtual reality at the company’s VR press conference. The event’s main focus was on Facebook Spaces, a VR app that allowed users to experience shared virtual-reality meeting rooms with friends.

That might sound similar to Snapchat’s Pluss, which pairs users with friends who’ve shared their snaps on other platforms. The companies both offer VR apps. But the similarities stop there. The Facebook app is essentially Facebook itself. At the press conference, Mr. Zuckerberg hinted at the kind of functionality Spaces would offer — group videoconferencing, virtually acting out an experience, even video chatting from within a visit to the Oculus Rift headset.

But if a VR meeting room feels like just another multi-user experience, that’s okay. Facebook’s business model for VR — and for its other new technologies, like augmented reality — is far more about selling ads than facilitating group conversation. They might also forget that VR is still primarily a consumer toy. After all, when Facebook users strap on a virtual headset, they’re not practicing their business communication skills with one another. Instead, they’re unplugging for an evening at home with their Facebook friends.

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