Mark Zuckerberg has poured billions into his virtual reality dream, a new platform that Facebook owns.
Facebook bought Oculus and has spent the last five years killing what it was and reinventing it as a Facebook-scale company. It has dumped most of the co-founders, brought in Zuck loyalists to take over the most important decisions and shifted towards accessibility over appeasing the company’s early supporters.
Facebook’s latest release is the realization of all that.
The company’s Quest product, which they released on Tuesday, offers a streamlined version of high-end virtual reality while leveraging time-honed software to make the process of getting up-and-running immeasurably easier. It’s probably the best VR product that’s been built yet, and one that has the mainstream firmly in view.
Facebook needs to lean in on the new device and move away from what got it there.
With past VR releases, there’s always been a key technology to blame or a key feature that was missing, but if the Oculus Quest fails, Facebook may just have to consider that the whole product category doesn’t hold the mass appeal it hoped for. Of more immediate concern should be why they’re maintaining such a differentiated product line in in pursuit of the mainstream when the Quest is largely alone in appealing to the mainstream customer that they actually want.
As the closing of the Oculus acquisition approaches its fifth birthday, one wonders where Facebook’s 10-year-plan for virtual reality begins to show some signs of critical success. Even as the company has built up a niche group of VR gamers and shipped millions of headsets, the company is still grappling with coaxing a mass audience and recouping what it’s invested.
Whether or not the Quest succeeds, you can only wonder how they’ll aim to streamline their current product line as the blank checks from Facebook start running out.
The underpowered $199 Go proved to be a nice piece of hardware for the price, but the year-old system is still ultimately a very forgettable introduction to the medium for new users. How much does Oculus gain from growing the user base of a product that’s best use case is watching Netflix in isolation? Samsung and Oculus made such a concerted push with the Gear VR, throwing free headsets at users, but ultimately developers aren’t investing in these platforms and that’s only going to grow more true.
Meanwhile the company’s bread-and-butter PC-based headset line could have a murky future as well. The latest Rift S which also launched this week to lesser fanfare is basically a lateral move for Oculus and suggests that the company likely isn’t willing to push boundaries on the high-end while it aims to gain its footing in the mainstream. Whether the Quest succeeds or fails, I would not be surprised to see the company fade the high-end into its standalone line over time. The PC will always drive the most high-end experiences, but it’s no place to stake a platform that still needs to prove itself.
Maintaining three distinct product lines isn’t just expensive from a hardware R&D point-of-view, it vastly complicates the company’s relationship with the developers its backing to build stuff that’s worth playing. The economics for VR game developers is already dodgy at best, if Oculus has determined that PC isn’t somewhere it wants to innovate with hardware it should just let the product class run its course and prioritize using the latest mobile chipsets in future standalone releases.
Oculus is a large org, but it’s more redundant than a company setting the stage for a new platform can afford to be. Facing its prolonged degradation, Nintendo reshaped its mobile and home consoles into a single product. Oculus needs to do the same, and they already have.
In 2014, Facebook bought a company that was promising to shape the future of VR by kickstarting it. Appealing to the high-end earned it millions of passionate early users on PC and millions of mobile users that gained an early taste of the platform. As Facebook has absorbed Oculus deeper into its org structure and promoted its own vision for creating a mass audience, the company has created something great with the Quest, perhaps something worth killing the product lines that got it there.
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10 Unexpected Uses For Your Smart Speakers
Just as you can use your smart speaker to help train your brain, you can use your smart speaker to train your body. Your smart speaker can help you to curate workout routines through the use of any number of apps available through Amazon’s Alexa or without any extra skills on Google Home. Unfortunately, it isn’t currently possible for Apple HomePod users to take advantage of a potential Apple subscription in this context, as Apple Fitness+ doesn’t currently support use with the HomePod.
However, on Google Home and Alexa, through voice-activated commands, your smart speaker can guide you through exercises with precision. It can provide step-by-step instructions for various workouts, ensuring proper form and technique to maximize effectiveness while reducing the risk of injury.
Going further, your smart speaker can help you keep up with how you’re doing with your goals throughout the day if you own a Fitbit. By connecting Alexa and your Fitbit, you can ask your smart speaker a plethora of questions, including how far you’ve walked in a day, how many calories you’ve burned, or what your resting heart rate is.
Achieving fitness goals isn’t just about exercise; it also involves proper nutrition. Tying back to using your smart speaker as an infinite cookbook, your smart speaker can provide dietary advice, suggest healthy recipes, and even create meal plans that align with your fitness objectives.
By connecting all of these separate pieces, your smart speaker can quickly become a hand-in-hand companion for helping you to stay on top of your fitness goals. Whether it be through reminders for workouts and meals or just staying up to date on your progress toward your goals on any given day, your smart speaker can have your back for all of your fitness needs.
The Most Luxurious Features Of Mazda’s Most Expensive Vehicle
The base Mazda CX-90 is less potent with its 280-horsepower 3.3-liter inline six. Still, it has many standard kits like smartphone connectivity, a 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen, 19-inch wheels, tri-zone automatic climate control, LED headlights, and many more. Meanwhile, the CX-90 PHEV has 323 horsepower from its 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, plug-in hybrid electric motor, and 17.8 kWh battery while having more tech goodies like a digital instrument cluster.
But to compete with the BMW X5, Kia Telluride, or Mercedes-Benz GLS, the Mazda CX-90 needs more than fancy climate controls and oversized alloys. The top-of-the-line CX-90 3.3 Turbo S Premium Plus trim has 21-inch wheels, second-row captain’s chairs with a center console, genuine Nappa leather upholstery (in tan or white), a two-tone leather steering wheel, maple wood trim, front & rear foot lighting, and a suede-like dashboard with Kakenui-inspired hanging stitches that feel soft and supple to the touch. Moreover, it has ventilated front and second-row seats with an additional heating feature for the second-row chairs.
Meanwhile, it has a 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, body-color wheel arch moldings, and adaptive front LED headlights. The advanced driving assistance tech list includes adaptive cruise control, frontal collision mitigation, blind-spot warning, lane-keeping assistance, a rear seat reminder, driver attention monitoring, front cross-traffic alert, and a 360-degree surround-view monitor.
The good news is the Mazda CX-90 starts at around $41,000 with destination, but you’ll need to fork over about $61,500 for the top-of-the-line 3.3 Turbo S Premium Plus. It’s a lot of money for a Mazda crossover, but it makes up for it with nifty handling, a roomy interior, plenty of available luxury features, and head-turning style.
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