In April this year at Facebook’s F8 developer conference, CEO Mark Zuckerberg further cemented his companies vision for the future. Zuckerberg further emphasised the companies ambitious ten-year master plan which it first revealed in 2016. According to this master plan, Facebook plans to turn artificial intelligence, ubiquitous internet connectivity, and virtual and augmented reality into viable parts of its business over the next decade.
To encourage the rise in augmented reality software, Zuckerberg unveiled the Camera Effects Platform. This platform allows outside developers to build augmented reality apps that you can access from the existing Facebook app’s camera. This would allow Facebook to create and offer filtering services like Snap Chat and games like Pokémon Go. This may not seem like much of a statement, but it’s once again putting Facebook into direct competition with Google and Apple as it trying to create another market of apps and tools that don’t rely on the smartphone marketplace.
To understand why Zuckerberg is trying to push Facebook further and further away from smartphones, you have to recall a public testimony Zuckerberg took part in earlier this year. Zuckerberg was testifying in a lawsuit between game maker ZeniMax and Oculus, the virtual reality start up Facebook bought in 2014. Zuckerberg created Facebook in 2004, just after mobiles were starting to catch on, and during the courtroom appearance, he was asked to comment on the implications of Facebook missing out on the smartphone revolution.
Zuckerberg responded by saying, “Because of that, Facebook hasn’t really been involved in designing the operating systems and phones, companies like Google and Apple have done that instead. And that in some cases meant we haven’t been able to design the experiences that we hoped to deliver for our community.”
To sum this up, Facebook has built its $415 billion ad business in the world of mobile phones, which in itself is a world owned and controlled by Apple and Google, not Facebook. It’s with this context, that Facebook is placing its future on augmented reality. It’s obvious that Facebook is determined not to miss out on the next big wave of technology that comes after smartphones. That is why Facebook paid $2 billion for Oculus in 2014, its why it’s working on its own augmented reality hardware and brain-controlled sensors, and has opened up its camera affects to developers.
It is arguable that if Facebook can build an augmented reality platform that is the equivalent to Apples iOS operating system for iPhones, it has a true shot at controlling the platform on which every company will have to build their augmented reality hardware.