Zuckerberg: Video today, virtual reality tomorrow

The Facebook CEO seems set on virtual reality as the next medium for sharing content

People really want to play with the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.

People really want to play with the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.

When people grow tired of posting photos and videos on social media, what then? Virtual-reality posts, according to Mark Zuckerberg.

We're entering into an era in which people's posts increasingly will revolve around video, "but that's not the end of the line," according to Facebook's CEO. After video, he said, "I think immersive 3D content is the obvious next thing."

"There's always a richer way that people want to share and consume thoughts and ideas," Zuckerberg said.

The Facebook chief made his comments in response to a question during the company's earnings call on Wednesday about what mainstream applications could come out of virtual reality and Oculus VR. Facebook bought the VR headset maker last year for US$2 billion, baffling some industry watchers about the social network's intentions.

When the acquisition was announced, Zuckerberg said VR technology is a "strong candidate" to emerge as the next social and communications platform, but he stopped short of anointing it as the medium of the future.

Since then, Zuckerberg has made other remarks about how virtual reality could be used not just for gaming or for entertainment, but for allowing people to connect. Earlier this month, during an online Q&A, Zuckerberg said VR would become the next "normal form" of content after texts, photos and videos.

Judging from his comments on Wednesday, Zuckerberg's thoughts about the uses of VR have evolved.

Facebook is already hard at work in the area of VR. At a conference earlier this year, Facebook Chief Product Officer Chris Cox said Facebook was developing its own virtual reality apps. The apps might be aimed at helping Facebook users create virtual-reality content for others to view and experience.

And Facebook is working to make video content in the News Feed more immersive. At the company's F8 conference earlier this year, the company said the News Feed would soon support spherical, 360-degree videos.

Facebook's Oculus Rift is scheduled to become commercially available to consumers in the first quarter of next year.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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