Zuckerberg: At Least 10 Years to Build the VR Ecosystem

Mark Zuckerberg

There may have been a ton of hype and excitement around VR at Mobile World Congress last week, but it will take at least 10 years to put the Virtual Reality ecosystem to be in place, according to man responsible for a lot of it, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

The prediction came in an interview with Zuckerberg by Mathias Döpfner, CEO of Axel Springer, in German newspaper Die Welt, which has also been reproduced in English by Business Insider. In the piece, Zuckerberg compared the evolution of VR to that of the smartphone, saying: “I honestly don’t know is how long it will take to build this ecosystem. It could be 5 years, it could be 10 years, it could be 15 or 20.  My guess is that it will be at least 10. It took 10 years to go from building the initial smartphone to reaching the mass market. BlackBerry came out in 2003 and it didn’t get to about a billion units until 2013.  So I can’t imagine it would be much faster for VR.”

Zuckerberg also explained the logic behind Facebook’s $2bn (£1.4bn) acquisition of VR headset maker Oculus Rift, saying that Facebook’s primary interest is in the software but that “there is a time early on in the development of any new platform where you really need to do the hardware and the software at the same time… Which is why we also take care of the hardware; although our long-term role will be in the field of software.”

And on the partnership with Samsung for the Gear VR, Zuckerberg agreed with Döpfner’s assertion that the principal motivation for that tie up, with a VR competitor, was to establish VR globally as quickly as possible, adding later in the interview that he believes a new computing platform always emerges every 10 or 15 years and that “VR is currently the most promising candidate”.

Finally, on the subject of Artifical Intelligence, asked by Döpfner if he felt that fears that AI could one day create machines that are more intelligent than the human brain, as expressed by Elon Musk among others, were valid or hysterical, Zuckerberg replied: “I think it is more hysterical”.

A revealing and interesting interview, not least because from the photos, Zuckerberg appears to be wearing a suit…