At the end of February this year, Andrew Bosworth, vice president of Facebook's VR/AR, could not wait to announce on Twitter that it would announce "the biggest VR/AR news of Facebook" by F8 conference so far.
However, after watching Zuckerberg's opening Keynote, VR / AR related highlights are limited, the most important news is just to announce the official launch of "big toy" Oculus Go one machine?
The F8 conference's "plainness" also indicates that the 2018 VR industry is unlikely to have large ups and downs.
VR/AR for Social Service
At the opening of the conference, Zuckerberg reiterated the Facebook 10-year strategic plan that had emerged at the F8 conference last year. At this stage, Facebook is still hard at work in the first two stages of the decade. It is building the Facebook ecosystem and strengthening its application matrix with WhatsApp, Instgram and Messenger as the main components. At the same time, the related functions of VR/AR development are social and Other application services. In subsequent keynote speeches, almost every speaker at Facebook emphasized the ease of social sharing of new features.
Let's look at the AR section first, Facebook's choice of the AR direction that can send force is inseparable from the old rival Snapchat. Since the rejection of the $3 billion acquisition of Snap over three years ago, Facebook has acquired the photo filter application Masquerade. August 2016 Facebook also launched Instagram Stories with content and services similar to Snapchat’s main services. For a long time, outside commentators generally believed that Facebook's actions in the AR filter were to imitate Snapchat.
At the F8 conference last year, Facebook announced the Camera Effects platform. Zuckerberg believes that smart phones will become the first big step for Facebook to build AR's future. Smartphone cameras will be the first augmented reality platform. There are two main tools in the Camera Effects platform: AR Studio can create various AR effects for photos and videos. Frame Studio is used for static overlap.
Obviously, the direct purpose of Camera Effects launch is to address Snapchat. Provide an open AR filter platform to attract more developers to produce more AR filter effects to enhance their competitiveness.
This year, Facebook announced that it is working with Sketchfab to bring more 3D models to AR Studio in order to better integrate AR functionality into Instgram and Messenger. For example, Instgram optimizes third-party media sharing, adds GoPro video direct sharing capabilities, and AR camera special effects, including developers' own custom effects.
In the commercialization function similar to the micro-store + enterprise number added by Messenger, users can experience the AR effect set in advance in the automatic reply of the enterprise number, and can directly complete the transaction in it, roughly similar to an AR version of the advertisement. + Experience + trading features.
In VR, Oculus announced a series of applications for social services. Oculus TV allows users to enjoy large-screen TVs in virtual space and can also be seen in the same virtual space with relatives and friends living in different places. For content, there are support from ESPN, Netflix, Hulu and other big streaming media partners.
Oculus Rooms, in simple terms, allows users to chat with friends and relatives in the same virtual space, and is actually an upgraded version of Facebook Spaces. In order to let users have something to do, they joined social games, especially table games, such as "Monopoly" which can now be played with relatives and friends in Oculus Rooms.
Oculus Venues allows users to watch sports events, concerts, movies, and live games online. Domestic companies such as micro-whales are also doing live VR events. In terms of content, it also cooperated with big content providers such as NBA, Major League Baseball, Lions Gate, and music live broadcast service providers AEG and Next VR.
Whether it is the Avatars system upgrade, or watching the Facebook, Instagram, Dropbox and other platform media content through the Oculus Gallery, can not be separated from the word social.
Finally, it was suspected that "So far Facebook's largest VR/AR News" was released on the occasion of Oculus Go, and Facebook announced that it will be released in 23 countries around the world, with a 32GB version of 199 US dollars and a 64GB version of 249 US dollars. At the same time, the cooperation with Xiaomi has also been officially implemented. In this time for the submission of a listing application, Xiaomi's version of the VR is expected to be released this summer and the price has not yet been announced.
Star Enterprise-led VR/AR Market
The reason why the highlights are limited is that the new VR/AR functions announced at this year's F8 conference are actually an upgrade of functions last year. The feedback from the VR industry in China to the author mostly expressed disappointment to the F8 conference.
Today, the development of the VR industry has been divided into two distinct lines. Start-ups are exploring the B-end market to survive, and star companies are responsible for driving the development of the industry. The market is out of reach and many capitals are on the sidelines. It is difficult for start-ups to invest in hardware and software regardless of costs. The expectation of rapid market development falls on big companies.
In the VR market in 2017, Sony has high hopes for the conservative PS VR, HTC's B-side profit, and wealthy Oculus.
The result was counterproductive, and Oculus in Facebook’s eyes should pave the way for the future of VR social networking. The same applies to the direction of gamification and attention to film and television. The seemingly low price of the Oculus Go on sale is a compromise of performance (poor gaming experience). Basically, it can only be used for viewing and social networking.
In the article "Facebook Power, Oculus's "Going to Gamification," the author has described the causes of Oculus's reversal, both the influence of Facebook will also meet the actual needs of the market strategy adjustment, for Oculus Go etc. VR machine paving.
This year's F8 conference once again demonstrated Facebook's "self-serving" side. VR/AR should serve "my" social empire. It can even be said that besides self-interest, there is no substantial help for other small and medium-sized developers. There is no experience in the hardware breakthrough (the upgraded version of Gear VR, a very basic product), but also can not help developers achieve greater profits (games are the main means of profit, but the lack of equipment performance, film and television content is difficult to profit).
When star companies have little to do, the 2018 VR industry is likely to be a hard year.
Cooperation with Xiaomi, can not help China VR
The phrase "big toy" may indicate that Xiaomi is also aware. At the 2017 Xiaomi Developers' Salon, Xiaomi announced that its cumulative sales of VR devices will have broken through 1.2 million. In 2018, millet glasses 2 and VR-one will be launched. It has long been rumored that this VR machine is a customized version of China's cooperation.
In addition to being of little benefit to developers, Xiaomi's Chinese customized version actually faces a series of problems.
Although Facebook claims that the mobile content on the Oculus Store already has "more than 1000 applications", according to foreign media evaluation, excellent applications are rare. Many applications are poorly optimized, even if the hardware is improved, but for most applications (because many are taken directly from the Gear VR), the visual clarity of the Oculus Go is not at all effective. , and these applications do not even achieve acceptable levels of anti-aliasing.
In addition, just like Gear VR, if Oculus's main social application is walled, it is enough to make Oculus Go’s problem of “content shortage” intensified. When the function is limited, in addition to the price advantage of Oculus Go, in fact, it also faces many domestic VR one-machine competition.
Another real problem is that since a good game can't be played, socialization can't be done and users can only watch movies. However, with the exception of experience-oriented panoramic videos, can the accumulation and output of truly high-quality VR film and television content keep up with the speed of user consumption? Can developers bring enough revenue to support continuous creation? According to the sharing of VR film and television content developers, in addition to several large video platforms, the number of platform users in the domestic VR industry does not exceed 2 million, and the daily life is less than 5,000.
No matter whether Oculus or iQiyi, most of them use investment shooting methods to provide VR film and television content. With 5 Oculus VR-funded films participating in the Sundance Film Festival this year, Colum Slevin, head of the Oculus Experience Department, said that in 2018, more high-quality VR film and television content will be invested. However, a good business model has not been established. This rule of law is not a cure.
SuperData quickly gave a prediction that Facebook will be able to sell 1.8 million Oculus Go this year and will become the best-selling VR device. However, "big toys" can't save the VR industry.