Facebook's Latest Move Could Set Off a VR Frenzy

Virtual reality and augmented reality headsets could finally move beyond early adopters and gamers, now that Facebook has hired a new executive to head up its VR efforts.

Former Xiaomi executive Hugo Barra has been appointed the new head of Facebook's VR business, and if his work history is any indicator, Facebook could bring its standalone Santa Cruze VR headset to the masses even faster that initially expected. Barra led the international expansion of Xiaomi, which was considered just a startup when he joined that company less than four years ago.

Credit: David Ramos/Getty

(Image credit: David Ramos/Getty)


VR is simply the next step in human connectedness, according to Doug Clinton at research firm Loup Ventures, and apparently Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg believed that as well, leading up to Facebook's 2014 acquisition of Oculus.

"VR is an evolution of the PC and mobile, so owning the platform gives Facebook incremental control over openness and development of services," Clinton wrote in a Loup Ventures blog post.

Analysts predict that Facebook users could eventually be able to create their own VR content, whether it's viewed using a smart phone strapped to your face like Samsung's Gear VR 2 or a head-mounted display with its own processing power.

Even before Facebook hired the Chinese phone manufacturer's executive, research firm CCS Insights said it expected 12 million virtual and augmented reality devices to be sold this year, with that figure spiking to more than 24 million 2018.

And that's despite the lack of VR content for non-gamers, a problem soon to be addressed by the likes of Amazon.com. Earlier this month, that company took a big step into VR when it hired former Tribeca Film Festival director Genna Terranova to lead the production of Amazon Studios VR content.