Facebook’s second quarter results are now out with the company’s revenue clocking in at $6.44 billion, and the social network’s user base standing at 1.71 billion monthly active users. In the earnings call, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also revealed some interesting insights on what the company is doing with Augmented and Virtual Reality. Facebook owns Oculus VR which has created the Oculus Rift headset that went on sale earlier this year.
Zuckerberg revealed in the earnings call that more than 1 million people (per month) use Oculus on mobile phones thanks to Samsung-Oculus Gear VR headset. Samsung’s Gear VR headset is powered by Oculus software, and users need an Oculus account to get the VR experience via their smartphones. Oculus Store for Gear VR has more than 300 apps, according to Facebook. Zuckerberg also said the company has filled all pre-orders for the customer-ready version of the Oculus Rift, and expects more demand in the upcoming holiday season.
During the investor earnings call, Mark Zuckerberg was also asked about his thoughts on Augmented Reality, which has gained media focus thanks to the massive success of the AR-based game Pokémon GO game. “While it’s still early for augmented reality, we’re doing AR research and testing lightweight versions of AR technology in mobile apps like MSQRD,” he said during the call.
Masquerade, which is written as MSQRD, is an app that Facebook bought in March this year. It lets users add animated filters to their videos. Last month, Facebook announced further integration with MSQRD app which has face-swapping feature and filters; now users can go Live on Facebook from the MSQRD app. Zuckerberg didn’t reveal much on how they plan to integrate MSQRD within Facebook.
On Pokémon GO, the Facebook CEO said, “Well, I, like everyone else, am enjoying Pokémon Go. And the biggest thing that I think we can take away from this as we invest in augmented reality in addition to virtual reality, is that the phone is probably going to be the mainstream consumer platform…” He also added that rather than glasses (a dig at Google Glass?), smartphones will make AR and VR mainstream.
According to Zuckerberg, MSQRD app is also “a kind of a fun way to augment.” Face filters have been popularised by Snapchat, and its one app that has seen tremendous growth in the past year. Video stories on Snapchat are quite popular, especially among the younger audience. Facebook on its part has tried to create Snapchat clones like SlingShot, Poke; but none of these have really worked.
Mark Zuckerberg is right when he says video is the future for content. On Snapchat users can add BitMoji, text, cartoons, funny filters to their videos and photos, and in a way transform themselves. The current Facebook platform doesn’t let users do that. He’s also got a point when he says these augmented reality tools will help in making the video experience more fun. Just how Facebook delivers on that is something, we’ll have to wait and see.
Facebook is not the only company looking at augmented reality. Apple CEO Tim Cook, during the company’s investor earnings call yesterday, also confirmed they too are investing in augmented reality, although once again Apple didn’t reveal much on that front. “AR can be huge, even if it doesn’t become a separate platform,” Cook had said.
One thing is for sure: the success of Pokémon GO has highlighted that when it comes to augmented reality, the big tech companies all have their own take on how to explore this further.