Facebook opens social VR app to rival platforms

Facebook’s virtual reality (VR) “Spaces” app, originally created for Oculus, can now be used with HTC Vive and will soon come to more competing VR platforms and devices.

Facebook opens social VR app to rival platforms

[, businessinsider.com]  Facebook’s virtual reality (VR) “Spaces” app, originally created for Oculus, can now be used with HTC Vive and will soon come to more competing VR platforms and devices, Facebook announced Tuesday.

The Spaces app is a social VR environment that lets consumers create art, interact with friends and family, and play games in a virtualized social space. This is a major about-face from Facebook’s original claim that its VR software and services would remain exclusive to the Facebook-owned Oculus platform.

This development is important because fragmentation between VR platforms could hinder uptake of any single VR experience. While exclusive releases may be beneficial for some categories of VR, like gaming, for a social experience that relies on the network effect maximizing reach is paramount to success. And Facebook is likely hoping it can push its social VR software to maximize its reach among VR consumers, a move that’s particularly important considering how fragmented the VR headset and platform space is. Facebook’s Oculus headset came in third in terms of headset shipments in Q3 2017, when it accounted for 210,000 units, behind Sony’s 490,000 and ahead of HTC’s 160,000.

The market will become more fragmented in 2018 as a range of new devices at lower price points are released. The line of Microsoft Mixed Reality headsets from HP, Lenovo, Acer, and Samsung will come to market in 2018 and the cheapest will start at $299. HTC and Oculus are both expected to launch their own headsets in the stand-alone category — stand-alone headsets tend to be cheaper than their computer-tethered counterparts. As more headsets on competing platforms come to market, it’s likely that wide-reaching apps like social experiences will be launched across platforms to maximize reach to the fairly small pool of potential users; in 2017, just 10% of US consumers owned or had access to a VR headset, according to a report from Deloitte.

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