As rumors of Apple’s plans to create AR and VR products intensify, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg joins The Information 411 podcast this week to talk about Facebook’s own interest in AR and VR. Zuckerberg made it through the interview without mentioning Apple by name — but the icy relationship between the two companies was clear in multiple comments from the Facebook CEO.
The Information’s Alex Heath asked Zuckerberg about Facebook’s focus on reducing its reliance on Apple and Google by building its VR and AR products from the “ground up.” This includes using custom silicon and a first-party operating system.
The Facebook CEO explained that he’s found it “constraining on mobile phones” to have to rely on other companies to determine what’s possible in software. He specifically pointed to being unable to bring the Facebook gaming platform to mobile devices, though he did so without explicitly mentioning Apple.
“There’s obviously an aspect of this, which is being able to make sure that we design these systems so we can build the software experiences that we want. I’ve certainly found it a little bit constraining on mobile phones. You have these app stores that are pretty rigid in their rules. Certainly, there are things that I think would create better social experiences that we’re just simply not allowed to build. On desktop browsers, we have this whole gaming platform. We basically just weren’t allowed to bring that to mobile.
We would like to make sure that we can design the next system so it can actually create the kind of social experiences that we would like there to be. “
Zuckerberg was also asked about pricing of AR and VR headsets, and he explained that Facebook’s goal is to offer the products “at as low of a cost as possible in order to get them out to everyone.” On the flip side, rumors have suggested that Apple’s first VR headset could be anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000.
Zuckerberg explained that this is what makes Facebook different from “other companies in the space that basically charge premium prices as their business model.”
“I think our inclination is probably going to be to try to offer these products at as low of a cost as possible in order to be able to get them out to everyone. Unlike some of the other companies in the space that basically charge premium prices as their business model, one of our core principles is we want to serve everyone. I’m very focused not only on how you can create a good VR and AR device, but how do you make it so it’s $300 instead of $1,000.”
Finally, the Facebook executive also gave his opinion on pass-through, which is the technology the first version of Apple’s mixed-reality headset might use. This would mean that “cameras on the exterior of the headset feed video back to high-resolution displays inside” instead of the “headset putting projections on transparent lenses,” The Information explains.
Zuckerberg downplayed this technology:
“You’re probably not going to want to live in a world of pass-through VR anytime soon because you’re not gonna want to give up the vividness of what your eyes can really see in terms of the contrast and brightness of the colors if everything is just slightly duller in VR.”
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